Judicial discretion leads to merciful sentence, but federalism, state rights ignored in California medical marijuana prosecution
Government sentencing demand ‘outrageous’
Washington, DC (June 5, 2003) -- In response to yesterday’s disposition of the Ed Rosenthal medical marijuana case in San Francisco, in which Rosenthal was sentenced to one day in prison, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Lawrence Goldman issued the following statement:
“We are pleased that federal judges still have enough discretion to have allowed Judge Breyer to do the right thing and sentence Mr. Rosenthal to time served. The prosecutor’s outrageous demand for a six and one-half year prison sentence demonstrates why a sensible criminal justice system requires that judges and not prosecutors determine sentences.
“But the sentence does not mask the fact that this was a senseless prosecution. Decent respect for principles of federalism requires that the Department of Justice abstain from overruling the will of the citizens of California to allow limited medical use of marijuana. Apparently, the federal government feels free to increase its vast power and disregard states’ rights when the states’ choices do not coincide with their own.”
Goldman is a criminal defense lawyer in New York City. He can be reached at (212)997-7499.