SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Ed Rosenthal, the self-proclaimed ``Guru of Ganja,''
walked free Wednesday after a federal judge sentenced him to just one day in
prison for growing marijuana Rosenthal said was for medical purposes. He could
have gotten 60 years behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said Rosenthal genuinely believed that
what he was doing was not against the law. ``He was unaware his conduct was
not
immunized from federal prosecution,'' the judge said.

Rosenthal's case represented the latest clash between state and federal
authorities over the medical use of marijuana. The federal government does not
recognize medical marijuana laws in California and the eight other states that
have them.

Wednesday's decision was met by cheers and applause in the courtroom. Federal
prosecutors had asked for a 6 1/2-year prison term.

``I think it's a marvelous victory for states' rights and the medical use of
marijuana,'' said Keith Stroup, executive director of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. ``It sends a strong signal
to the federal
government that they should reconsider their current program of arresting
patients and caregivers in California.''

In January, a jury concluded Rosenthal was growing more than 100 plants,
conspired to cultivate marijuana, and maintained an Oakland warehouse for a
growing operation.

Rosenthal, 58, had said he was acting as an agent for Oakland's medical
marijuana program, an outgrowth of a 1996 measure approved by California's
voters
that allows sick people to obtain marijuana with a letter from a doctor.

But the judge did not allow the jurors to hear those arguments, and several
of them later said they would have acquitted Rosenthal had they known.

The judge sentenced Rosenthal to one day in prison, then set him free after
crediting him with time already served, saying the defendant ``had a
reasonable
belief that what he did was not contrary to law.''

Rosenthal also was fined $1,300 and will be on supervised release for three
years.

``I take responsibility for my actions that bring me here today. I took these
actions because my conscience led me to help people who are suffering,''
Rosenthal said outside the courtroom. ``These laws are doomed.''

He was greeted by dozens of supporters wearing pot leaf leis and
pro-marijuana T-shirts, some carrying signs that read ``Medicate, Don't
Incarcerate'' and
``This is persecution, not prosecution.'' The scent of marijuana was pungent
despite a strong police presence.

Despite the light sentence, defense lawyer Dennis Riordan said he will
continue his appeal of Rosenthal's conviction, calling it an ``onerous
burden'' with
``enormous consequences.''

The judge warned that the sentence should not be viewed as a precedent.

``This case should not and could not happen again,'' he said. ``Others are
now on notice that a state or municipality cannot legally authorize medical
marijuana.''

Prosecutor George Bevan said Rosenthal was not simply helping the ill.

``This operation is a cash cow. He put out thousands and thousands of
plants,'' Bevan said. ``I don't think anyone disagrees with helping sick
people, but
as far as we're concerned, it was a business.''

Federal law does not permit legalization of marijuana for medical use,
although Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada,
Oregon and
Washington allow it.


By KIM CURTIS
.c The Associated Press