News Release

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.

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.