Federal and state power clash in medical marijuana case 

In a case that

In a case that has drawn attention nationwide, marijuana writer and activist Ed Rosenthal, of California, was convicted last week on federal charges that even the members of his jury later said were completely unfair. Rosenthal"s case brings light upon an ongoing battle between federal and state power in medical marijuana issues. Proposition 215 in California, along with other local laws, allows certain ill individuals to use and cultivate marijuana. The Department of Justice holds the position that federal laws override state laws, and arrested Rosenthal last year and charged him with marijuana cultivation and conspiracy. According to Doug Keenan, owner of the Magic Bulb shop in Indianapolis, the case becomes more complicated thanks to language in federal law. "The Controlled Substances Act makes it very clear that if you are in possession while in the course of your duties as an authorized agent of the state, you are covered." In keeping with this law, according to Keenan, the city of Oakland deputized Rosenthal to act as an agent of the city, thus protecting him under the specific language of the Controlled Substances Act. This was his main defense at his trial, but this defense was disallowed by federal Judge Charles Breyer, who repeatedly ruled that the only issue at hand was whether or not Rosenthal grew marijuana. His motives could not be considered. "Given this big battery of attacks coming in, the basic response of the federal judge there was to pull off an ostrich," Keenan said. "No, we"re not going to let the jury know anything going on. In essence, Ed was not allowed to present any defense at all." At one point, Judge Breyer took over the questioning of a city agent from Rosenthal"s attorney. "Why even have the defense attorney there, the jury there, even the prosecutor there, if the judge is willing to fill all the roles himself?" Keenan said. "It really is Kafkaesque." The jury convicted Rosenthal Jan. 31 of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy. Rosenthal faces between five and 85 years in prison when he is sentenced June 4. Last Tuesday several members of the jury publicly apologized to Rosenthal for their verdict and said they would have found him not guilty had they known about his full defense. Alan Dershowitz, of Harvard Law School, has stated that he expects the case won"t hold up if it goes to the Supreme Court. "I suspect Charlie"s older brother [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer] will overrule him," Dershowitz told the San Francisco Examiner. "When there"s a conflict between federal and state law in a criminal case, the jury ought to know about it." Tee Keenan (Doug Keenan"s spouse), owner of the Magic Bus, said that the public attention to the case can only help. "We"re making some strides," Tee Keenan said. "What went on with that jury was unbelievable. But [the apology] makes me feel like we"re getting that much closer."

Tags: ,

Readers also liked…

Around the Web


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

This Week's Flyers

About The Author

Paul F. P. Pogue

Today's Best Bets | All of today's events

Keep in-the-know

Sign up for Nuvo

Around the Web

All contents copyright © 2016 NUVO Inc.
3951 N. Meridian St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Website powered by Foundation