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ASA Attorney Strikes Blow Against Federal Government

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ASA Attorney Strikes Blow Against Federal Government
Federal Judge Rules Ed Rosenthal Was Vindictively Prosecuted

Dear ASA Supporter,

ASA Chief Counsel, Joe Elford, secured a huge victory for the medical marijuana movement yesterday in the case of author and medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal. Federal District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that Rosenthal was vindictively prosecuted, and dismissed charges of tax evasion and money laundering — charges that were added after Rosenthal's conviction in 2006! The remaining marijuana charges against Rosenthal are virtually identical to those pursued against him in his previous trial. With an admission in court by the U.S. Attorney that it would not seek additional punishment beyond the one-day sentence for Rosenthal's conviction, the prosecution has little reason to proceed with the case.

"We are gratified that the court has recognized the vindictive nature of this prosecution and has reigned in the prosecutor," said Joe Elford, author of the successful vindictive prosecution motion. "The additional charges brought against Rosenthal were clearly in retaliation for his criticism of the government. Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted on a vendetta carried out by a prosecutor against a defendant."

ASA's legal department does this kind of work every day and needs your support to continue securing legal victories for medical marijuana patients. Please pledge your support today!

Judge Breyer's ruling is the result of a motion to dismiss based on vindictive prosecution filed by Americans for Safe Access and other attorneys with Rosenthal's legal team. The substance of the brief was that the government was retaliating against Rosenthal for his successful appeal and his statements to the press that his first trial was unfair. In his ruling, Judge Breyer asserted that "the government's deeds--and words--create the perception that it added the new charges to make Rosenthal look like a common criminal...".

Rosenthal was re-indicted after his 2003 conviction was overturned in April 2006 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After finding out that medical marijuana evidence had been excluded from the 2003 trial, a majority of the jurors that convicted Rosenthal recanted their verdict. Due at least in part to public outcry, Rosenthal was sentenced to one day in jail. The government was relying on the new charges of tax evasion and money laundering to justify the second prosecution of Rosenthal. The court has now confirmed that Rosenthal's continued prosecution is suspect.

Yesterday's victory is just one example of the exciting work ASA's legal department is doing. Some other highlights include:

  • DQA Lawsuit: For many years the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has maintained that marijuana has no medical value, despite evidence to the contrary here in this country and around the world. On February 21st, 2007, with the fanfare of international media attention, ASA filed a groundbreaking lawsuit to correct the federal government's misinformation around medical cannabis. Stanford Law Professor Alan Morrison has joined ASA as co-counsel, and four patients from California, Colorado, Idaho, and Missouri are named in the lawsuit.
  • San Diego County Lawsuit: In late 2005, the County of San Diego sued to overturn many provisions of the California Health and Safety Code, including the requirement that county health departments issue medical cannabis ID cards to qualified patients (San Diego County v. San Diego NORML). ASA intervened in the suit on behalf of patients and doctors and in December 2006 successfully obtained a ruling that affirmed patients' rights and upheld state law. In February 2007, San Diego filed its appeal, which ASA will continue to fight for as long as it takes.
  • California Supreme Court Case: Ross v. RagingWire: ASA successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court in November 2005 to hear a case involving the employment rights of medical marijuana patients. In September 2005, the California Court of Appeals ruled that qualified medical marijuana patients did not have any remedy for being terminated from their employment simply for testing positive for marijuana. Hoping to overturn this discriminatory decision, ASA agreed to represent the plaintiff Gary Ross. The case will likely be heard sometime in 2007.

We rely upon your support to do this crucial work. No one else is going to do this but you and ASA. Our legal team needs your support to continue to protect and expand the rights of medical cannabis patients. Will you please take a minute right now to visit our new web site and make a monthly pledge of support? Just $10, $15, or $25 per month makes a difference. You may also choose to make a larger one-time contribution to help us at this strategic moment. With your support, we know we have the money to keep doing this important work.

Thank you for your generous support!


Kris Hermes
Legal Campaign Director
Americans for Safe Access

Background Information:

Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
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