February 5, 2003

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  Pot verdict: Fight back

THE CONVICTION OF Ed Rosenthal on charges of illegally cultivating marijuana should be seen as what it really is: a direct attack on the state of California by the Bush administration.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who presided at Rosenthal's trial, refused to allow the defendant to tell the jury what he was really doing: The city of Oakland had essentially hired him to grow pot to distribute to sick people under Proposition 215. He's free on bail until his sentencing June 4 and is appealing his case.

The Oakland City Council and San Francisco Board of Supervisors should pass resolutions calling on Breyer to depart from federal sentencing rules, which call for minimum 10-year jail terms. The cities should also be preparing to file amicus briefs to support Rosenthal's motion for a new trial and his appeal. And both cities should be developing a battle plan to protect medical marijuana suppliers like Rosenthal. A good place to start: Designate plenty more caregivers like Rosenthal as agents of the city, then get the cities directly into the medical pot-growing business (as called for under San Francisco's Proposition S) – and promise an all-out legal fight to support them. Let's see if the feds really want to indict the city and county of San Francisco.