Defense Closes in Ed Rosenthal Medical Marijuana Trial

Trial proceedings came to a close Thursday, January 30, in the Federal prosecution of best-selling author and marijuana expert Ed Rosenthal. The jury will begin deliberations today at 8:30 a.m. and a verdict is expected by the end of the day.
Testifying on Thursday were Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and Dan Weaver, a forensic expert. Supervisor Miley, formerly of the Oakland City Council, testified that he worked with Rosenthal on the Prop. 215 Compassionate Use Act. He also told the jury that Rosenthal was completely open with city officials about his marijuana growing activities and that he personally visited Rosenthal’s nursery. Weaver disputed the government’s plant count, an issue critical to the two most serious charges Rosenthal faces.

Defense attorneys had planned to put on the stand several other witnesses, including a prominent local physician, a former member of San Francisco District Attorney Hallinan’s office, and the executive director of a national legal reform organization – all of whom would have testified as to Rosenthal’s character and commitment to civic activities — but presiding judge Charles Breyer blocked their appearance as irrelevant.

Judge Breyer has ruled that the medical nature of Rosenthal’s activities cannot be discussed at trial, nor can his relationship with the City of Oakland’s medical cannabis program. As a result, the defense has been severely limited in the questions they can ask witnesses and the evidence they could present.

If convicted, Rosenthal, 58, faces a minimum of 10 years, with a possibility of life imprisonment under federal mandatory minimums, as well as a possible $6.5 million in fines.

Rosenthal, author of over a dozen books on marijuana and the renowned “Ask Ed” magazine columnist, was arrested in February 2002 after agents raided an Oakland facility where starter plants were being grown for medical marijuana patients. This prosecution is widely perceived as an attack on California’s Compassionate Use Act, Prop 215, and Rosenthal is seen as a high-profile target in attempts to eradicate medical marijuana laws.

WHEN: Thursday, Jan 31, 8:30 a.m. – Jury deliberates; Verdict TBA Verdict response outside courthouse, TBA

WHERE: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Courtroom of Justice Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, California

WHAT: Pending verdict on the Ed Rosenthal medical marijuana trial

WHO: Ed Rosenthal, 58, is internationally regarded as one of the leading experts on marijuana.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Press calls will be made when the verdict announcement comes in. For updates throughout the day, contact Teresa Schilling,; (510) 410-7064. Trial updates and background information on Ed Rosenthal’s case are available on the web at or