Transcripts From Last Night's Dateline Interview With Ed Rosenthal

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Feb 23, 2003.

  1. Hey is the transcripts from Stone Phillips' interview with Ed Rosenthal on Dateline last night.

    I copied and pasted from my email so that's the reason the format is a bit off.

    Here is the link if you just want to go read the transcripst there.

    Pubdate: Fri, 21 Feb 2003
    Source: National Broadcasting Company (US)
    Program: Dateline NBC
    Copyright: 2003 National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
    Anchor: Stone Phillips
    Please: Send NBC and the above Contact a thank you note and also go to the
    above Webpage where you will find a webform at the bottom of the page for
    sending a thank you note to Dateline. On the webpage is a clickable U.S.
    map with info about state medical cannabis laws, as well as a link to Ed
    Rosenthal support website, GreenAid
    Also: A link to a net video of the program segment will be posted with this
    item in the MAP archives at as soon as the URL is known.


    Stone Phillips: He's a best-selling author who's caught in a real-life
    cliffhanger. Arrested, accused and convicted of high crimes, he may be
    writing his next chapters in prison. But the jurors who found him guilty
    are now feeling guilty themselves. It all centers on a growing controversy
    that could be headed to your state, about the law of the land, the will of
    the people, and what can happen when they clash. Over the years "Dateline"
    has interviewed many juries, but what these jurors had to say was truly

    Stone Phillips: THE MAN JURORS are calling a hero, is the very man they
    just convicted for violating federal anti-drug laws.

    Marney: I don't think there's anything we can do to ever make up for the
    mistake that we made.

    Stone Phillips: A mistake? What happened that led these jurors to recant
    their own verdict, and hold a press conference to apologize for what they'd

    Welcome to the very unusual case of the United States versus Ed Rosenthal.

    Ed Rosenthal is a 58-year-old family man, avid gardener, best-selling author

    Rosenthal: "No clothes on, and I was greeted by the FBI and the DEA. So, I
    opened up the door."

    Stone Phillips: He was busted on marijuana charges, which might not come as
    much of a surprise, given that Ed Rosenthal's gardening expertise and the
    subject of his numerous books _ is pot.

    He's Ed, of the "Ask Ed" column in High Times Magazine, and he's the star
    of a movie that probably never made it to your local cineplex, "Cannabis
    Rising," an inside look at Holland's robust marijuana industry.

    For more than 20 years, he's been one of this country's most vocal
    pro-marijuana advocates.

    Rosenthal: "I think that marijuana should be under civil regulation, rather
    than be illegal. I think it's a terrible crime against society that
    marijuana remains in the criminal state that it's in."

    Stone Phillips: But what got Ed Rosenthal into trouble wasn't his books, or
    his was his green thumb. Inside a warehouse, he was growing
    marijuana plants, lots of them, as a tape shot by the DEA clearly shows.

    Phillips: "Are we talking about hundreds of plants, in your case?"

    Rosenthal: "Well, well, in my case, yes, it was hundreds of plants, and at
    times, it could have been thousands of plants."

    Stone Phillips: And everyone knows, growing even a single marijuana plant
    is against the law. Isn't it?

    Well it is, and it isn't. Under federal law, growing marijuana is a crime,
    period. But Ed Rosenthal was growing his marijuana in Oakland, Calif., for
    a program authorized in this very room by the city council to distribute
    marijuana to seriously ill people. California is one of nine states where
    voters have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes - that's a
    direct conflict with federal anti-drug laws.

    And Ed Rosenthal got caught right in the middle.

    "This was a man trying to implement California's compassionate use law,"
    says Bill Lockyer, California's attorney general.

    The state's top cop says if it were up to him, Rosenthal would still be
    growing marijuana.

    Lockyer: "He wasn't the drug dealer that we're chasing all the time and
    trying to stop peddling drugs to kids. He was trying to help cancer patients."

    Phillips: "And doing so under a city-sanctioned program?"

    Lockyer: "Correct."

    Stone Phillips: California's medical marijuana law, called proposition 215,
    was approved by voters in a 1996 statewide referendum. It left it up to the
    cities to figure out how to distribute pot to people who need it.

    Oakland designated a "cannabis club" as its authorized dispensary. There,
    people whose doctors had prescribed it for them, could obtain medical

    "It's used for AIDS, it's used for multiple sclerosis, for cancer, chemo
    and nuclear therapy," says Rosenthal.

    "It's like going in and getting any prescription," says 35-year-old Kary
    McElroy, a former athlete whose body can no longer tolerate
    anti-inflammatory drugs.

    She found relief for her osteoarthrits and ligament damage in a clean, safe
    dispensary near her home.

    McElroy: "They fill the prescription, they give it to you, you go home and
    utilize your medication to relieve the pain you're suffering from."

    Phillips: "But somebody's got to provide it. Somebody's got to grow it and
    supply it."

    Rosenthal: "That's right."

    Phillips: "And that's where you came in."

    Rosenthal: "That's right... What I provided was starter plants so that
    patients could grow their own and become self sufficient and grow their own

    Stone Phillips: For three years, from 1999 until his arrest in February
    2002, Rosenthal supplied marijuana plants to the dispensary in Oakland and
    to others in the San Francisco area.

    Phillips: "Was this a money making proposition for you?"

    Rosenthal: "Not for me. No, it wasn't."

    Phillips: "Were you concerned about your legal liability doing this,
    becoming involved in this program?"

    Rosenthal: "No, because I was assured that I had immunity from federal
    prosecution and I knew that the state and city were on my side."

    Stone Phillips: The author of "Don't Get Busted" knew that state and city
    laws could not override the federal marijuana law. But Rosenthal had a
    letter from the Oakland dispensary stating that he was "immune from civil
    and criminal liability."

    How could that be? Well, the city of Oakland claimed that people working
    for the dispensary were "officers of the city" and therefore immune from
    federal prosecution, the same as police who handle drugs for undercover
    sting operations.

    It was a novel legal strategy, that even the city attorney's office
    described as "legally questionable."

    And they were right. When Ed Rosenthal went on trial, a federal judge ruled
    that nothing about that immunity claim, his letter, or his status as a city
    officer would protect him from prosecution.

    In fact, the jury would never hear why Ed Rosenthal was growing his
    marijuana plants - and the defense wasn't even allowed to mention the term,
    medical marijuana.

    Under federal law, the questions were simply, had Ed Rosenthal conspired to
    grow marijuana, and had he, in fact, grown it in that Oakland warehouse?

    Phillips: "How did the prosecutors portray you in court?"

    Rosenthal: "Oh, I was a big drug king pin."

    Stone Phillips: After five days of prosecution testimony, and only two
    hours from a defense limited by the judge's rulings, the jury returned a

    Rosenthal: "I knew that before the verdict was read, I knew that the
    verdict was guilty because when I saw those jurors come back into the
    courtroom, they didn't look happy."

    Stone Phillips: These jurors were far from happy once the case was over and
    they learned that Rosenthal had been helping to implement proposition 215 -
    the medical marijuana law that many of them had voted for.

    Marney Craig (juror): "When we find out what we did, we were devastated. I
    couldn't believe that I had been part of such a travesty of justice... He
    was growing medical marijuana to give to sick people, and losing money on
    the whole proposition and we convicted him as a criminal."

    Phillips: "You didn't hear any of that?"

    Craig: "We heard none of it. The defense was never allowed to present its

    Charles Sackett (juror): "After I found out that we, as jurors, weren't
    given all of the evidence, I felt conned."

    Pamela Klarkowski (juror): "I felt like a pawn in the middle of this big game."

    Kevin Schmidt (juror): "I felt like I couldn't even walk down the street,
    among, you know other Americans, without feeling like, you know, I had just
    wronged everyone, just in California, in San Francisco. It was very difficult."

    Stone Phillips: Within days of their verdict, these jurors decided to go
    public with their discontent.

    Phillips: "What was your reaction when after having convicted you _ they

    Rosenthal: "It was very emotional. It was very emotional. I think they're
    really good people. They're very brave people."

    Stone Phillips: Attorney Robert Eye represents Ed Rosenthal. He says, put
    the law on trial, not the man.

    Eye: "If the federal government really believes that proposition 215 is
    wrong, they can challenge it the same way they did Oregon's right-to-die
    law, the same way that Colorado's, provision on homosexual rights was

    Phillips: "So, go to court and try to get the law repealed?"

    Eye: "They challenge the law. They don't challenge the individuals who are
    out there doing a good faith effort to implement it."

    Stone Phillips: John Walters heads the White House Office of National Drug
    Control Policy; he's America's drug czar.

    "Our goal here is not to persecute people - our goal is to enforce laws
    that are important to protect the health and welfare of our people," says

    While he couldn't comment on the Ed Rosenthal case, he did clearly state
    the government's position: that smoking marijuana is not medicine, and
    state laws approving it are simply smokescreens.

    Phillips: "Are people being fooled about medical marijuana?"

    Walters: "I think they have been sold a bill of goods by people whose real
    agenda and the real monies come from people who want to legalize drugs."

    Phillips: "This is snake oil?"

    Walters: "I think it is the modern equivalent of snake oil, yes."

    Phillips: "California, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon,
    Washington, Hawaii. All have approved medical marijuana laws. Will growers
    and users in those states be prosecuted?"

    Walters: "If they violate the federal law, we will enforce the federal law."

    Phillips: "But you appreciate the conflict. I mean, on the one hand, a
    state says it's okay and then suddenly you're arrested on federal charges?"

    Walters: "Well, no one's, I think, unaware of the federal law here. And in
    fact there has been an intention to say we are thumbing our nose at the
    federal law. We believe the federal law is wrong."

    Stone Phillips: But California's attorney general believes voters there
    were simply trying to do what they thought was right when they approved
    medical marijuana. And while prosecuting someone like Rosenthal may be the
    law of the land, it's not necessarily the will of the people.

    Phillips: "What's your bottom line take on this case?"

    Bill Lockyer: "Well, it just seems to me to be terribly unjust. It's unjust
    to this guy. It's unjust to people that were relying on the medicine. It's
    unjust to California voters."

    Stone Phillips: And with voters in more and more states contemplating
    medical marijuana laws like California's, the conflict between states'
    rights and federal law may grow even sharper.

    Phillips: "So who's going to blink first?"

    Lockyer: "Well, the federal agents have the larger club. I mean, federal
    law is superior to state law if they try to run over us. And what they've
    done, basically, is run over us."

    Stone Phillips: "What's the problem with the federal government that it has
    to go bullying the state governments over this, in a court trial that is
    unfair," says juror Charles Sackett. "And we're supposed to participate in

    As for Ed Rosenthal, he's facing a minimum of five years in federal prison,
    and as many as 20. Whatever happens, he says he'll continue to speak out
    about this growing controversy, from the warehouse to the big house.

    While Ed Rosenthal has many supporters in Oakland, he also has his critics,
    including the current head of the City Council, who told "Dateline" he
    believes that by growing a warehouse full of marijuana, Rosenthal pushed
    the envelope and has now made it harder for the city to carry out its
    medical marijuana distribution program. Rosenthal is scheduled to be
    sentenced in June. But he says he will appeal.

    Distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
    receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
  2. Thank you very much.

  3. I posted it just for you, Roach! ;)
  4. That was a great read, thanks for posting it!
  5. Fascinating stuff.Over here (uk) nobody seems to be taking the fight against prohibition into the public arena very much these days. I am pretty sure the public in general has a better informed opinion on marijuana and its undoubted use as medicine than our government gives us credit for, but with the laws on possession due to change soon, and the penalty for possession with intent to supply to drop from its present 12 years in prison to a still ludicrous 5 years, those involved in producing their own weed are probably quite right to keep their heads below the parapet for now.
    It is claimed by some that except where an individual is blatant in his supply of mj, the authorities are prepared to go after more dangerous and damaging criminals than the peaceful, non-violent home-grower. Believe that if you like.

Grasscity Deals Near You


Share This Page