Ed Rosenthal is recognized worldwide as an authority on marijuana. In his thirty-plus years as a cannabis expert, he has written or edited more than a dozen books about marijuana cultivation and social policy, that cumulatively have sold over one million copies. Rosenthal is a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and the Garden Writers Association of America, and has served as an expert witness on marijuana cultivation in federal and state trials.
Rosenthal has also been active in promoting and developing policies of civil regulation for medical marijuana. Since the passage of California’s pioneering Prop 215 in 1996, which authorizes medicinal use of marijuana, he has worked with the state’s growers, dispensaries, and local governments to standardize and implement the delivery of pharmaceutical grade cannabis to patients.
On February 12, 2002, Ed was arrested by federal agents for applying his knowledge and helping patients to use medical marijuana. He has been charged on three counts of cultivation and conspiracy, and if convicted faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of life imprisonment without parole.
Ed Rosenthal is a threat to many in the federal government and their efforts to continue the War on Drugs. Having observed government policies in Europe and Canada that now recognize the beneficial applications of cannabis, he is an out spoken advocate for similar advances within the United States. For many, Rosenthal’s situation focuses attention on the fact that the laws have become more harmful to society than what they were intended to regulate. The current administration is further threatened by the probability that Ed’s acquittal will stop their interference with the right of states and voters to regulate their own health and welfare, as California has done with Prop. 215.
The question is clear—will those providing medical marijuana to patients in California, in compliance with state law, continue to be prosecuted by the federal government? In recent polls 70% of the public show support for the use of medical marijuana. By making an example of such high-profile activists as Ed Rosenthal, the Bush administration hopes to thwart the medical marijuana movement. Ed’s watershed case can establish precedent for the prosecution of similar cases in the U.S.