For the last two weeks, I’ve been impressed by the solidarity of the marijuana community in regards to marijuana cultivation expert and publisher Ed Rosenthal, whose “Ask Ed” column graces every issue of Cannabis Culture.
People have called and emailed me from around the world, worried about the man who has brought light and humor to the science of growing pot, ever since his trial started in mid-January.
Ed’s a self-described “Yippie” who has been one of the world’s most courageous and fearless marijuana advocates for the past 30 years.
He’s also been an iconoclast- a man who spoke out against corruption and hypocrisy wherever he encountered it- whether it was in the ranks of drug warriors or in the marijuana industry and movement itself.
Rosenthal is one of few marijuana writers and advocates who has had the guts to use his real name and face in his work. It may surprise you to know that most people who make money writing about marijuana for major pot magazines or in books are using fake names because they are afraid to put themselves on the line for pot.
Not so for Rosenthal, who outed himself three decades ago and never looked back.
It’s surprising that the US federal government hasn’t hammered Ed before. Yet, he spent many years helping people grow pot without any real harassment from the anti-plant agents.
It was only when the war-loving administration of George W. Bush and DEA Chief Asa Hutchinson came to power, however, that somebody in DC decided to destroy Ed.
And since Ed was openly working to provide medpot to sick and dying people with the blessing of municipal authorities, it was easy for the federal bully DEA posse to bust him last February in a Bay Area series of raids.
Now, Ed Rosenthal, a 58-year-old father, husband and talk show host who has helped generations of pot growers in their quest for perfect cannabis agriculture, faces life imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for allegedly violating federal marijuana law.
On a cold Friday morning, January 31st, the pot world held its collective breath as the jury in Rosenthal’s case- a jury that has been prevented from hearing the truth about California’s medpot law by the trial judge and prosecutor- deliberates the grow guru’s fate.
The mood in Oakland, where Ed’s publishing company and home are located, was surprisingly optimistic.
According to one source close to the situation, “Ed has always been optimistic since day one.”
“He has been very confident and organized, knowing that he was in the right, and seeking to prove that the government is in the wrong in every aspect of this case,” another source affirmed. “He never thought of giving up, becoming an informant, or fleeing. That isn’t his way. He doesn’t run and hide, even though he is facing a virtual death sentence if life imprisonment is handed down.”
The trial has been reminiscent of a Kafka story. District Court Judge Charles Breyer muzzled Ed and his defense team. The jury was not allowed to hear the context of Rosenthal’s “crimes,” which included growing marijuana for sale and distribution. Breyer even went so far as to prohibit Rosenthal’s lawyer from questioning a key defense witness; he took over questioning himself.
US Attorney George Bevan similarly revealed that America’s courts have become fascist tools by trying to get Judge Breyer to rule that Ed, his family and his attorneys could not speak to the media. The judge refused Bevan’s request, and international news coverage of the trial has been overwhelmingly in favor of Rosenthal.
Despite the judge’s determination not to let the jury hear about California’s medpot laws or to hear testimony that exonerated Ed, the defense managed to demolish the prosecution’s case in key areas, such as in the number of plants being grown and in the credibility of DEA agents. Of course, DEA agents are trained liars, so it doesn’t take much to demolish their credibility, does it?
In the end, with the jury requesting a night off so that deliberations on Ed’s fate could begin fresh on Friday, Rosenthal’s supporters felt that hope was the only answer.
“America is at a turning point in so many ways,” a source told us. “We are on the brink of starting World War Three, our federal government has become totalitarian, and a good man is facing the destruction of his life by people whose hearts are cold and evil. If you believe in any deity or power in the universe, face towards Oakland, California today, and pray for Ed and his family, and for America. Pray that the jury sees through this farce, and that it returns not guilty verdicts on all counts as a message to the monsters that they cannot continue to destroy innocent lives.”
Late Friday, the jurors did what the judge and prosecutor had told them to-they found Ed guilty on all three counts he had been brought to trial for.
Some pot insiders said Rosenthal would surely appeal, based on irregularities that include possible jury tampering during the Grand Jury phase of the case that produced the indictment, and on Breyer’s surreal insistence that Californians not talk about the landmark medpot law they passed in 1996, a law that Rosenthal was abiding by.
“The judge was openly hostile to the defense in a way that was unprecedented,” one source lamented. “The jury was being threatened by the judge. If they had come back with a jury nullification or not guilty, he might have had them jailed. There was no real trial. It was a set-up. It was an mob hit carried out by the feds.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 4th, at 10 in the morning, Breyer will decide whether to take Ed Rosenthal into custody pending the author’s sentencing hearing set for June, 2003.
Stunned and demoralized pot people are planning a rally in Breyer’s courtroom that morning in San Francisco.
If you have any of Rosenthal’s pot books in your library, get ’em out and thumb through them. Look at the pictures of White Widow and other phat varieties of healing bud. Contemplate the love, bravery and professionalism that this man put into helping our culture grow nature’s kindest plant.
If Ed Rosenthal is sentenced to the life term that federal law requires, it will not just be the end of a hero, it will be the end of an era.
For the latest updates and information about Ed Rosenthal, go to www.green-aid.com. To order Rosenthal’s amazing grow books and his newest book about making powerful hashish and other concentrated pot products, go to www.quicktrading.com.