Feds take aim at `Ganja Guru' again

Medical Marijuana at the U.S. Federal level.

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Feds take aim at `Ganja Guru' again

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Aug 31, 2006 2:18 pm

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Juror's call upends medical pot conviction

The Alameda Times-Star wrote:Article Last Updated: 08/30/2006 05:38:34 PM PDT

Feds take aim at `Ganja Guru' again

By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
The Alameda Times-Star


SAN FRANCISCO - Federal prosecutors not only are preparing to re-try Oakland "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal, but seem to be searching for more charges to file against him.

Rosenthal, 61, was in federal court Wednesday for the first time since his 2003 convictions were overturned earlier this year. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered him to return Sept. 13, when he and attorneys will try to set a trial date.

"The government might want to take a hard look at this case, is my suggestion," said Breyer as the brief status hearing ended.

Outside, Rosenthal's attorney, William Simpich of Oakland, said he took that parting comment to mean the judge believes "this case should be terminated."

But William Dolphin, a spokesman for the Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said Wednesday at least two witnesses appeared under subpoena last Thursday before a federal grand jury in San Francisco that's probing Rosenthal's activities over a wider range of time than the original case included — possibly a prelude to new charges.

Those two people, who for now wish to remain anonymous, both invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Dolphin said. They're to appear before the grand jury again Thursday, perhaps to be offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony; this could leave them to choose between testifying or being jailed for civil contempt of court.

Famed for his marijuana cultivation books and the "Ask Ed" column he wrote for High Times magazine, Rosenthal was convicted of three marijuana-growing felonies in 2003, more than a year after federal agents raided sites including his Oakland home, an Oakland warehouse in which he was growing marijuana, and a San Francisco medical marijuana club he supplied.

Medical use of marijuana on a doctor's recommendation is legal under state law but prohibited by federal law, so Rosenthal was barred from mounting a medical defense at trial. Breyer sentenced him to one day behind bars — time he'd already served.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his convictions in April, finding juror misconduct -- a juror's conversation with an attorney-friend during deliberations -- compromised Rosenthal's right to a fair verdict and so warranted a new trial.

But the court also rejected Rosenthal's claim of immunity from prosecution as an officer of Oakland who grew the drug under the city's medical marijuana ordinance. The court in July refused Rosenthal's requests for rehearing, or for an "en banc" rehearing by a larger panel.

Simpich told Breyer on Wednesday that Rosenthal's team of lawyers by Oct. 15 will file a petition seeking the U.S. Supreme Court's review. But Breyer said the 9th Circuit's Aug. 16 remand of the case requires that a retrial be scheduled within 70 days of that date.

Richard Watts of San Francisco, arrested and charged in the same 2002 raids that nabbed Rosenthal, has not yet been tried. His attorney, J. Tony Serra of San Francisco, is serving 10 months in the federal prison at Lompoc for failing to pay income taxes and won't get out until March. So Breyer on Wednesday ordered Watts to find a new lawyer by the Sept. 13 hearing or one will be appointed for him.


Contact Josh Richman at jrichman@angnewspapers.com.

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Ed Rosenthal and Richard Watts to Hold Sept. 13th Press Conf

Postby budman » Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:18 pm

IndyMedia wrote:Ed Rosenthal and Richard Watts to Hold Sept. 13th Press Conference

IndyMedia
Tue Sep 12 2006

Federal Government Attempting to Re-Indict Medical Cannabis Providers

Ed Rosenthal and Richard Watts will be holding a press conference on <span class=postbold>Wednesday, September 13th</span> at 12pm outside of 450 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco, following their 10:00am status hearing inside of the Federal Building. The U.S. Attorney's office, represented by Asst. U.S. Attorney George Bevan Jr., is attempting to re-indict medical cannabis guru Ed Rosenthal and Richard Watts, son of noted philosopher Alan Watts, for growing and providing medicinal marijuana. Two people were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury related to this case last month, and they both invoked their constitutional rights and refused to testify. (ASA's previous coverage of the new grand jury) Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan reportedly ordered them to appear again on September 14th at 10am, at which time the government may charge them with civil contempt or seek indictments against them.

Federal agents raided Rosenthal's Oakland home, his warehouse grow-operation, and the 6th St Harm Reduction Center in February 2002, and charged the pair with multiple cannabis felonies. Ed Rosenthal was convicted in 2003, after a travesty of a trial in which medical marijuana could not be mentioned (collected coverage). After the verdict was announced, nine of twelve jurors recanted their decision, saying if they'd have known it was about medical cannabis, they wouldn't have voted guilty. Audio of Visionary Activist Show's 2003 interview with Ed

Judge Charles Breyer sentenced Ed to one day, and concluded Rosenthal had "reasonably" but erroneously believed that he was acting legally because of his support from local officials, saying that "extraordinary, unique circumstances of this case" justified an exemption from the usual five-year minimum term. Rick Watts has spent the last five years in federal probation, in legal limbo, awaiting trial for the same offenses.

In April 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed Rosenthal's convictions and remanded his case to U.S. District Court for retrial, due to possible jury misconduct. The U.S. Attorney's Office has the power to not retry him or Rick Watts, yet they choose to squander valuable taxpayer dollars by prosecuting Rosenthal and Watts, but they seem to have chosen to ignore the will of California voters who voted for Proposition 215 in 1996.

Ed Rosenthal's supporters are calling for all medical cannabis patients, their caregivers, and supporters to phone or fax the U.S. Attorney's office to demand that it immediately cease its prosecution of both cases, as well as all those currently awaiting trial for medical cannabis related offenses; and for the federal government to release all medical cannabis prisoners currently in custody.

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Two People Refuse Offer of Immunity, Continue to Resist MMJ

Postby budman » Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:36 pm

IndyMedia wrote:Two People Refuse Offer of Immunity, Continue to Resist MMJ Grand Jury re: Ed Rosenthal

by via ASA
Thursday Aug 31st, 2006 3:10 PM


Oakland (August 31, 2006) -- Two people subpoenaed to a grand jury, in connection with medical marijuana author and cultivator Ed Rosenthal, invoked their constitutional rights today and refused the federal government's offer of immunity. The two individuals, who for the moment are choosing to remain anonymous, had refused to testify in a hearing last week. The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, ordered them to appear again on September 14 at 10am, at which time the government may charge the two with civil contempt or seek indictments against them. The recently convened grand jury in Oakland is supposed to be investigating new information surrounding the prior indictment of Ed
Rosenthal.

Rosenthal was arrested in February 2002 after the DEA raided the Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco. Due to not being able to assert a medical defense, Rosenthal was convicted in January 2003. After outrage expressed by jurors and supporters alike, U.S. District Court Charles Breyer sentenced Rosenthal on June 3, 2003 to one day in prison. Rosenthal then appealed to the Ninth Circuit. In April 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court reversed Rosenthal's convictions and remanded his case to federal district court. That action by the Ninth Circuit allowed the government to re-try Rosenthal.

The government is seeking additional evidence to enable it to proceed with new charges against Rosenthal. As such, the investigation has been expanded to include events that occurred between 1997 and 2002, whereas the original case was only interested in the period between 2001 and 2002. Although contempt charges and possible indictments have been threatened against the two people subpoenaed, advocates assert that the government is using intimidation tactics to assist its investigation.

In addition to Rosenthal facing 10 years if retried and convicted, the case against Rick Watts, a former co-defendant with Rosenthal, has also been re-opened. There will be a status hearing for Rosenthal and Watts before Judge Breyer on September 13 in San Francisco federal court. Judge Breyer indicated in a status hearing this week that the government had better have new evidence to bring if it intends to retry
Rosenthal.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.



Kris Hermes

Legal Campaign Director



--
Kris Hermes
Legal Campaign Director
Americans for Safe Access
http://www.SafeAccessNow.org
1322 Webster Street, Suite 402
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-251-1856 x307
Fax: 510-251-2036
Email: kris [at] SafeAccessNow.org
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`Ganja guru' wants grand jury info

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:40 pm

The Oroville Mercury-Register wrote:Article Launched: 09/13/2006 04:48:00 PM PDT

`Ganja guru' wants grand jury info
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
The Oroville Mercury-Register


SAN FRANCISCO - Lawyers for Oakland "guru of ganja" Ed Rosenthal want more access to the grand jury that's probing him anew, even as they move rapidly toward his retrial on old charges.

Attorney Bill Simpich told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer today he'll file a motion regarding the Oakland-based federal grand jury by Monday. The government has until Oct. 2 to respond, and a hearing is set for Oct. 11.

Breyer set an Oct. 23 trial date but said he expects to postpone it. Rosenthal is still seeking a lawyer other than Simpich for his retrial, and co-defendant Richard Watts -- never tried the first time around because he'd been seriously hurt in a car accident -- also lacks counsel.

Meanwhile, two unnamed individuals who earlier had invoked their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when called to testify about Rosenthal to the grand jury have been told they need not return to the grand jury Thursday, Rosenthal said. It's unclear what this might mean, as federal prosecutors can't discuss grand jury proceedings.

Famed for his marijuana cultivation books and the "Ask Ed" column he wrote for High Times magazine, Rosenthal was convicted of three marijuana-growing felonies in 2003, more than a year after federal agents raided sites including his Oakland home, an Oakland warehouse in which he was growing marijuana and a San Francisco medical marijuana club he supplied.

Medical use of marijuana on a doctor's recommendation is legal under state law but prohibited by federal law, so Rosenthal was barred from mounting a medical defense at trial. Breyer sentenced him to one day behind bars -- time he'd already served.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his convictions in April, finding juror misconduct -- a juror's conversation with an attorney-friend during deliberations -- compromised Rosenthal's right to a fair verdict and so warranted a new trial. But the court also rejected Rosenthal's claim of immunity from prosecution as an officer of Oakland who grew the drug under the city's medical marijuana ordinance.


Contact Josh Richman at jrichman@angnewspapers.com.

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Grand Jury Will Not Reconvene Defendants to Appear With New

Postby Midnight toker » Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:36 am

IndyBay wrote:
Grand Jury Will Not Reconvene<br>Defendants to Appear With New Counsel Sept 24th

by freeman
Thursday Sep 14th, 2006 7:13 AM
IndyBay



<table class=posttable width=300 align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/rosenthal_13-sep-06.jpg width=300></td></tr></table>San Francisco, CA September 13, 2006 -- Ed Rosenthal and Richard Watts appeared before Judge Charles Breyer in U.S. District Court in a status conference to determine who will represent them in their upcoming trial for medical cannabis felonies, but perhaps the most significant development was that a grand jury will not reconvene in their case.

Supervisors Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi spoke the crowd of thirty patients in support of Ed and against the federal government misguided medical cannabis policies. Other speakers included: Aimiee Allison, Green Party candidate, Julian Davis who read a letter of support from State Assemblyperson Mark Leno, John form VCAN, Showna Gochenaur from Axis of Love, Clark Sullivan from HempEvolution.org and Sonjia the Hemptrez.

Mr. Rosenthal also spoke to the crowd on two occasions about his determination to prevail in his case against the federal government and how was willing to go to the Court of Appeals, even if it meant his retrial.

Bill Simpich represented Ed and a Public Defender named Ms. Faulk was Rick's Counsel for this appearance. Judge Breyer castigated the defense counsel when they asked that time not be waived. Breyer was obviously perturbed as he asked if they were lawyers several times.

Asst. U.S. Attorney George Bevan Jr. ["Mr. Marijuana for the government"] kept pointing out he had no one to talk from either defendants' counsel. He also said he would make available documents related for a motion for discovery.

Rosenthal and Watts are ordered to appear with counsel at 10 AM, Wednesday, September 27, 2006. Mr. Watts was also ordered to appear on Friday, September 15th before a Magistrate Judge to have counsel appointed to him by the Federal Public Defender's Office.

Axis of Love and Hemp Evolution would like thank all those who showed up and send out special thanks to State Assemblyperson Mark Leno, Supervisors Daly and Mirkarimi for their continued support for medical cannabis patients' rights.

http://www.hempevolution.org

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