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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
California's 'Guru of Ganja' freed
Ed Rosenthal (R) hugs his attorney Dennis Riordan as he leaves court
Ed Rosenthal (R) was fined $1,000
A man who describes himself as the "Guru of Ganja" has walked free from a federal court in San Francisco after being convicted of growing marijuana.

Ed Rosenthal, who said the drug was for medical purposes, could have received 60 years behind bars.

Instead, the judge sentenced the 58-year-old to one day in prison - and then set him free after declaring he had already served that time.

The case represented the latest clash between state and federal authorities over the medical use of marijuana.

The federal government does not recognise medical marijuana laws in the nine US states, including California, that have them.

STATES WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS
Alaska
Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Maine
Nevada
Oregon
Washington

Rosenthal was also fined $1,000 and will be on supervised release for three years. Federal prosecutors had asked for a six-and-a-half-year prison term.

Wednesday's judgement was met by cheering and applause in the courtroom.

"I take responsibility for my actions that bring me here today," Rosenthal said following the decision.

"I took these actions because my conscience led me to help people who are suffering. These laws are doomed."

'State's marijuana agent'

In February, a jury convicted Rosenthal on charges of growing marijuana.

Part of the prosecution's case was that he had maintained a warehouse in Oakland as part of his marijuana growing operation.

Rosenthal said he was acting as an agent for Oakland's medical marijuana programme, part of a 1996 medical marijuana initiative approved by California's voters.

However, jurors were not allowed to hear those arguments. Several of them later said that they would have acquitted Rosenthal had they known.

Keith Stroup of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws welcomed the judge's decision.

"I think it's a marvellous victory for states' rights and the medical use of marijuana," he said.

"It sends a strong signal to the federal government that they should reconsider their current programme of arresting patients and caregivers in California."




SEE ALSO:
US outlaws 'medical' marijuana
14 May 01  |  Americas
NY Mayor appears in marijuana ads
09 Apr 02  |  Americas


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