DRUG WAR BRIEFS: The Feds Railroad Ed Rosenthal

January 28- The San Jose Mercury News reports: Controversy over medicinal marijuana has reached the eighth grade in Belmont, where a middle school principal has refused to let a student display her project on the possible medical benefits of pot.

Ralston Intermediate School Principal Deborah Ferguson told 13-year-old Veronica Mouser last week she was barring her project -- called ``Mary Jane for Pain'' -- from the school science fair opening today.

Projects are supposed to be hands-on, the school says, and marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government.

Veronica burst into sobs and called her stepfather from the nearest phone. Now the emboldened teen, who loves debating and wants to be a lawyer, is ready to put up a battle.

Veronica said pursuit of scientific inquiry shouldn't be restrained because of controversy. ``I think they just didn't like what I had to say, or talking about it, so they block it out, and that's not science,'' she said.

January 29- The Las Vegas Review Journal reports: A White House lawyer has notified Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller's office that Drug Czar John Walters does not have to follow a Nevada political campaign law.

In a Monday letter, General Counsel Edward Jurith said Walters is "immune" from a state law requiring people who advocate positions on Nevada ballot questions to identify their contributors and report expenditures.

During the fall campaign, Walters visited Nevada three times to speak out against passage of Question 9, the failed ballot question that would have allowed adults to possess up to three ounces of marijuana.

January 31- Associated Press reports: An author of how-to books on growing marijuana and avoiding the law was convicted Friday of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy charges.

The jury concluded that Ed Rosenthal, the self-described "Guru of Ganja," was growing more than 1,000 plants, conspiring to cultivate marijuana and maintaining a warehouse for a growing operation. He faces a maximum life term when sentenced June 4.

Several people in the courtroom, including Rosenthal's wife and daughter, wept as the verdicts were read by a court clerk.

The verdicts were a victory in the federal government's battle against California's 1996 voter-approved medical marijuana law. Rosenthal's arrest last year was among a string of Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana suppliers in California.

Under strict orders from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, Rosenthal was never able to tell the jury that he was growing marijuana as "an officer" for the city of Oakland's medical marijuana program.

Oakland's program and others throughout California were authorized under Proposition 215. Eight other states also allow the sick and dying to smoke or grow marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. But federal authorities do not recognize those laws.

"There is no such thing as medical marijuana," said Richard Meyer, a DEA spokesman. "We're Americans first, Californians second."

Jury foreman Charles Sackett III said outside court that jurors were following federal law in finding Rosenthal guilty, but he personally hoped the verdict would be overturned.

"We had no legal wiggle room," Sackett said.

February 2- The Topeka Capital Journal reports: Prison beds in Kansas are filling up, and keeping people convicted of drug possession out of those beds would ease the state's financial and substance abuse problems, say drafters of a new bill facing the Legislature.

Barbara Tombs, the outgoing executive director of the Kansas Sentencing Commission, said placing drug possession offenders with no history of crimes against other people in drug treatment programs was cheaper and served the public better than incarceration.

The Kansas Department of Corrections has cut almost all drug treatment programs from the prison system because of the current budget crisis, and Tombs said drug users were being released back into the community with the same addictions that got them there.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at drugwarbriefs@yahoo.com.

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