SAN FRANCISCO -- California Attorney General Bill Lockyer urged a federal
judge Tuesday to be lenient on self-described "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal
who was convicted Jan. 31 of marijuana cultivation charges.

Rosenthal, 58, says he was growing medical marijuana under a 1996 law
approved by California voters, and was deputized by the city of Oakland to
carry out that task.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer prohibited Rosenthal's federal jury from
hearing any evidence of that sort, and Rosenthal was painted in the jury's
eyes as a major drug supplier.

In a two-page letter submitted Tuesday, Lockyer asked Breyer, when he
sentences Rosenthal June 4, "to consider the California Compassionate Use
Act of 1996 ... which authorizes the possession or cultivation of marijuana
for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral
recommendation or approval of a physician."

Rosenthal's prosecution underscores the federal government's position that
medical marijuana is illegal, that it has no medical value and that the will
of California voters has no affect on federal drug law.

Lockyer asked Breyer "to impose the minimum sentence allowed under the
federal sentencing guidelines."

Dennis Riordan, Rosenthal's attorney, said the lowest allowable term would
be no prison time at all.

The federal Probation Department is recommending a 21-month term, according
to court documents. The maximum term is 60 years. Prosecutors have not said
how much time they are seeking and did not return a call Tuesday seeking
comment.

Meanwhile, nine of Rosenthal's 12 jurors also asked the judge not to
imprison Rosenthal. The panelists decried their own verdict after learning
that Rosenthal was acting under the auspices of the city of Oakland's
marijuana program.

"We feel strongly that Mr. Rosenthal deserves uninterrupted freedom because
we convicted him without having all of the evidence," the nine jurors wrote
Breyer Tuesday.

Rosenthal once wrote the "Ask Ed" column for High Times magazine and has
written books with titles including "The Big Book of Buds" and "Ask Ed:
Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted."


POSTED: 5:09 p.m. PDT May 27, 2003
Webpage: http://www.ktvu.com/news/2231223/detail.html