Ed Rosenthal, best-selling author of books and articles about how to grow marijuana, was convicted in January 2003 of three federal felonies after a medical marijuana trial that received international media attention. He vowed to appeal even though he was only sentenced to a single day of incarceration and that day was already credited from the time of his arrest.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vindicated Rosenthal, overturning his convictions and ordering a new trial. The Ninth Circuit ruled that two jurors had been improperly influenced by information they received indicating they could get in trouble for not following the judge?s instructions on reaching a verdict. According to declarations filed with the court, both jurors were struggling with their consciences because they knew the case involved medical marijuana, which made them reluctant to convict.
After convicting Rosenthal, the majority of the jurors on the panel publicly recanted their verdicts on an episode of NBC?s Dateline and signed a letter to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer asking that he show Rosenthal mercy at sentencing. All said they would not have convicted had they known all the facts of the case.
The federal government had also appealed the case, asking that Rosenthal be sent to prison for six and a half years. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the government?s appeal because it overturned the convictions, but noted that new rulings on federal sentencing guidelines mean they would not have reviewed Judge Breyer?s decision on sentencing anyway.
?That footnote is the panel?s way of telling the federal government not to bother with a new trial,? said Joe Elford, counsel for Americans for Safe Access who also served as an attorney for Rosenthal both at trial and during his appeal. ?Why waste more taxpayer resources when the best you can hope for is a conviction but no additional jail time??
Rosenthal, Elford and others will be available to discuss the case and the Ninth Circuit?s decision at a press conference with Americans for Safe Access tomorrow.
WHAT: Press conference on overturn of medical marijuana convictions
WHO: Ed Rosenthal, author and activist; members of Rosenthal?s legal team, including Joe Elford, attorney for Rosenthal and Americans for Safe Access; Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access
WHEN: 10:00 am, Thursday, April 27, 2006
WHERE: California State Building in Oakland, 1515 Clay Street, Room 7, 2nd Floor
Media Contact: Joe Elford (415) 573-7842; ASA office (510) 251-1856 x307
A national coalition of 25,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working to advance legal medical marijuana therapies and research. To learn more, see www.SafeAccessNow.org.