Federal Jury Convicts Medical Marijuana Grower for Conspiracy, Cultivation
In a "triumph for federal prosecutors seeking to override California's endorsement" of medical marijuana, a federal jury on Friday convicted Oakland medical marijuana grower and advocate Edward Rosenthal of felony conspiracy and cultivation charges, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The jury found that Rosenthal conspired to grow more than 100 plants, a crime that carries a minimum five-year sentence, rather than following the prosecution's request to convict him of conspiring to grow more than 1,000 plants, which would have carried a minimum 10-year sentence (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1). Rosenthal remains free on a $200,000 bond and will be sentenced in June. He said he will appeal the decision, stating that "the truth was barred from the trial," the Sacramento Bee reports (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 2/1).
During the trial, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer did not allow Rosenthal's lawyers to use California's Proposition 215 as a defense because he was indicted under federal law, the Chronicle reports. Breyer also barred evidence that Rosenthal was deputized by the city of Oakland to distribute marijuana to a patients' cooperative (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1). Federal law prohibits the cultivation, distribution or possession of marijuana. Under Proposition 215, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 1996 and upheld by the state Supreme Court last July, patients with chronic diseases can use medical marijuana to treat pain (California Healthline, 1/23). Jury foreman Charles Sackett said the jury "was largely sympathetic to Rosenthal's predicament," but the judge's order to exclude Proposition 215 left jurors "no legal wiggle room," the AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports (AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/1). U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Richard Meyer said, "There is no such thing as medical marijuana. We're Americans first, Californians second" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.