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Globe And Mail

POSTED AT 5:27 PM EST Tuesday, February 4

Jurors in pot case outraged

Associated Press

San Francisco Jurors who convicted a man of cultivating marijuana and other federal drug charges say they would have acquitted him had they been told he was growing it for medical purposes for the city of Oakland.

"I feel like I made the biggest mistake in my life," juror Marney Craig said. "We convicted a man who is not a criminal."

Other jurors reached Monday agreed and planned to write to Ed Rosenthal to apologize.

Mr. Rosenthal, 58, faces up to 85 years in prison when he is sentenced June 4. In a courtroom crowded with medical marijuana advocates wearing "Free Ed" buttons, a federal judge decided Tuesday that Mr. Rosenthal can remain free until then.

After a two-week trial, the 12-member jury unanimously concluded Friday that Mr. Rosenthal was growing more than 100 plants, conspired to cultivate marijuana, and maintained an Oakland warehouse for a growing operation. He was portrayed as a major drug manufacturer.

The jury was not told that Mr. Rosenthal was acting as an agent of Oakland's medical marijuana program, an outgrowth of a 1996 medical marijuana initiative approved by California's voters that conflicts with federal law.

"I really feel manipulated in a way," juror Pam Klarkowsky said. "Had I known that information, there is no way I could have found that man guilty."

Mr. Rosenthal's defence team repeatedly tried to call witnesses to testify that he was growing marijuana for medical use. The judge denied those requests and was backed up twice during the trial by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legal experts said U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer had federal precedent on his side.

"A bank robber is not allowed a defense that he was stealing money for his starving children, even if he was," said Rory Little, a Hastings College of the Law professor.

Jury foreman Charles Sackett said he hopes Mr. Rosenthal's case is overturned on appeal.

"Some of us jurors are upset about the way the trial was conducted.... I would have liked to have been given the opportunity to decide with all the evidence."

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