Medical marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal, who was convicted by a federal jury in February of illegally growing 100 marijuana plants in an Oakland, Calif., warehouse, was given a one-day jail sentence Wednesday by U.S. district judge Charles Breyer, The Washington Post reports. Breyer, the brother of U.S. Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, dismissed calls from prosecutors to impose a sentence of at least five years. Rosenthal, 58, had been growing the plants with permission from area health officials for seriously ill patients in the San Francisco Bay area, who are permitted under state law to use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their illnesses. However, federal law prohibits the use, possession, or growing of marijuana for any reason.
Medical marijuana advocates hailed Breyer's decision. "For all practical purposes, Judge Breyer just overturned the federal law banning medical marijuana," Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the Post. "This could be the final crack in the wall that brings the whole federal war on medical marijuana patients crashing down, and it's about time." Rosenthal told reporters after the sentencing that he believes federal efforts to prohibit the use of medicinal marijuana are now "doomed."
Prosecutors declined to comment on whether they plan to appeal Breyer's sentencing decision but said federal prosecutions of those who use, possess, or grow marijuana in states that permit medical use of the drug will continue. "It would be unfortunate if anyone misread the ruling today to mean the federal government isn't going to enforce our laws against drug trafficking," Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the Post.