In San Francisco, Marijuana Remorse

gavel against backdrop of marijuana plant
A marijuana advocate and the jury that convicted him are making an unexpected show of solidarity: Jurors claim they were misled and the defendant says it isn't them he blames.

Ed Rosenthal, the self-described "Guru of Ganja," was allowed Tuesday to remain free on $200,000 bail until his June 4 sentencing on federal drug violations.

Outside court, Rosenthal told supporters that he had "no regrets. ... Both the jury and I were victims of persecution, of an illegal government action."

Jurors said they felt cheated because they weren't allowed to hear that Rosenthal supplied Oakland's medical marijuana program, an outgrowth of a 1996 medical marijuana initiative that conflicts with federal law.

"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 Rosenthal to apologize.

After a two-week trial, the 12-member jury unanimously concluded Friday that 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.

Rosenthal's defense 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 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."

By Angela Watercutter