“Ask Ed” keeps on answering

Ed RosenthalEd RosenthalMarijuana cultivation expert and Cannabis Culture grow guru Ed Rosenthal is continuing his work on behalf of marijuana agriculture and activism, despite being arrested during a February invasion of California by the Drug Enforcement Administration (see CC#37, DEA Attacks Med-Pot and Hemp).
Rosenthal and several co-defendants are facing mandatory minimum sentences of ten years in federal prison, along with millions of dollars in monetary penalties, for allegedly growing high quality medical marijuana that was sold in San Francisco-area medpot clubs.

The 57-year-old Rosenthal greeted DEA agents in the nude when they raided his home early on the morning of February 12th, but since then, it has been the DEA and the US Prosecutor’s office that have stripped Rosenthal of his peace of mind and ability to assist sick and dying patients who seek to benefit from California’s Prop. 215, the landmark medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996.

According to Jane Rosenthal, Ed’s wife, the grow guru has been preoccupied with finding permanent and effective legal counsel since he posted half a million dollar bond to get out of jail after the arrest.

And although many marijuana defendants in similar circumstances would go silent and renounce their public and private ties to the marijuana world in order to achieve more favorable treatment by judge and juries, Jane Rosenthal says, Ed has continued to provide expert advice about growing marijuana via his long-running Ask Ed column, which began in High Times magazine two decades ago and now appears exclusively in Cannabis Culture magazine.

“Probably the government views his grow advice as an example of somebody helping other people to commit a crime,” Jane said, “but Ed views himself as a horticultural expert. He believes that providing advice on how to grow plants, any plants, is an intellectual exercise that is protected by the First Amendment. He has expertise and he shares it. How can that be a crime?”

Insiders close to the California situation say the DEA’s February raids, and the undercover investigations and informants that formed the basis for them, are a revealing glimpse of how the marijuana movement harms itself, and a sobering warning about what is to come.

“It now appears that there was not just one inside Bay Area nark, Father Nazarin,” says a source who worked in one of the medpot clubs affected by the winter raids. “There were other narks, some named in the DEA indictment, some not. Some guy named Bobby has been named by a lot of people as a hidden informant who did a lot of damage. Some of them appear to be people who worked with or for Nazarin, and others are people who worked in and around Ken Hayes and others associated with the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center. All of these people, as far as we can tell, smoked marijuana, loved marijuana, and received benefits from marijuana. When people in this buiness turn on each other, as appears to have happened, it is especially troubling. It shows you how difficult it is to be an activist, or a grower, or a medical provider. You really don’t know how to trust anybody. You are also going to be worried, every second of every day. The person you are smoking a joint with- will they turn you in if they get into trouble or need some money?”

Jane Rosenthal says that while Ed is obviously not happy about the legal ordeal and possible prison term that he is facing, the Rosenthal family has been bolstered by worldwide support for Rosenthal since the bust.

“There has been a healing of rifts in the movement as people came together to support Ed,” Jane noted, referring in part to Ed’s appearance at the April NORML conference in San Francisco. “We’ve had people who have had personal and philosophical differences with Ed come forward to help us. They believe that the government’s actions, to come in to a state that has so clearly affirmed the medical marijuana movement and do what they did, has to be opposed at all costs. People are working together more than ever before.”

Rosenthal says that some observers believe the DEA and Justice Department have sent signals that they intend to again invade California, on or after June 6th, to shut down and persecute the remaining medpot clubs and medpot providers and growers.

In the meantime, she says, her husband’s book publishing company continues to produce quality grow books and counterculture tomes, and he is also continuing to produce his once a month radio show on the Pacifica Network’s KPFA radio station. The lauded show is appropriately called “The 4:20 Report.”

“Ed is a freedom fighter,” his wife says proudly. “He has always spoken his mind, even when it wasn’t popular. I think people respect that. Ed’s main focus now is not on discussing what has happened to him, but foucsing on the billions of dollars spent on the drug war. There are so many marijuana arrests, and so much time and money devoted to it. At a time when we have the FBI director saying that it isn’t a matter of if, but when, that we will be attacked by suicide bombers on US soil, how can they justify spending any money against a healing plant? You can get KPFA live on the internet. The show is on May 29th between 1 and 2 p.m. Pacific time. Listen in; Ed knows how to have fun and tell the truth at the same time.”Ed Rosenthal

– information about making donations to Ed Rosenthal’s legal defense fund can be obtained by visiting www.ask-ed.net.