SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A top U.S. government anti-drug official
said Thursday that a one-day sentence for the "ganja guru" convicted
of growing marijuana sent a wrong signal to medical patients and
would-be drug users.

A federal judge in San Francisco sentenced Ed Rosenthal on Wednesday
to a day in jail -- the minimum possible punishment -- for growing
marijuana in violation of federal law because the pot advocate
believed its cultivation was allowed under California law.

Growing marijuana for medical purposes is legal in California under a
voter-approved state law.

"I'm very concerned as a professional in the area of addiction
medicine that this is going to send the wrong signal," Andrea
Barthwell, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, said in an interview with Reuters.

"This undermines our ability to communicate very clearly to the youth
of the country who are, you know, at risk to develop more severe
forms of dependence on marijuana."

During the trial, the judge had barred Rosenthal from giving evidence
he had cultivated pot as an "officer" of the city of Oakland, which
had a medical marijuana program. After his conviction in January,
some jury members later said they would have issued a different
verdict had they known the medical marijuana background of the case.

Barthwell said she worried that "people who are suffering from very
serious medical conditions will believe that marijuana is a
medication and they can be helped by it."

"Seeing this as a victory for making marijuana more available is a
serious concern," she added.