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Judge rules in favor of pot activist

March 15, 2007|Eric Bailey | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge Wednesday dismissed charges of tax evasion and money laundering against High Times columnist and medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal.

Rosenthal had been busted for growing pot for dispensaries. During his 2003 trial on three felony charges for cultivating marijuana, he was prohibited from citing medical marijuana in his defense.

After delivering a guilty verdict, several jurors criticized the government for not allowing that evidence to be aired during the trial. Rosenthal, the self-described "Guru of Ganja," was sentenced to the single day he had already served in jail.

The conviction was overturned in April 2006, but federal prosecutors indicted Rosenthal anew for growing pot, adding charges of tax evasion and money laundering. His defense team accused the government of vindictive prosecution in retaliation for Rosenthal's successful appeal and criticism of the prosecutors' tactics.

In his 12-page ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote that "the government's deeds -- and words -- create the perception that it added the new charges to make Rosenthal look like a common criminal and thus dissipate the criticism heaped on the government after the first trial."

eric.bailey@latimes.com

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