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'Ganja Guru' found guilty by U.S. but won't do more time

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Oakland Tribune (CA)
URL: 
http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/ci_6027620

Ganja Guru case rests in the hands of a federal jury, again

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Oroville Mercury-Register (CA)
URL: 
http://www.orovillemr.com/news/bayarea/ci_6019330

Press Release: Home of the Free???

For Immediate Release: May 16, 2007 Contact: E.C. Danuel D. Quaintance, Church of Cognizance at (928) 485-2952 I ask for nothing more than open minds to examine the possible consequences of putting scriptural interpretations of a recognized religion to a test, in order to decide if that religion qualifies for First Amendment protections. It is not uncommon amongst followers of various faiths to interpret their common faith in different ways. The Supreme Court stated, in Thomas v. Review Board, “Intrafaith differences of that kind are not uncommon among followers of a particular creed, and the judicial process is singularly ill equipped to resolve such differences in relation to the Religion Clauses,” then went on to instruct that “Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretations.” This human freedom to interpret the scriptures as we see them was something most Americans take for granted. This freedom is not something small churches can take for granted any longer. The attack against a small church, and religious interpretations in general, has begun in a U.S. District court in New Mexico. New Mexico follows prior decisions of the 10th Cir. Courts. The 10th Circuit upheld the use of a test in the District of New Mexico, which originated in deciding if the beliefs of a newly established, one-man, religion qualified to receive First Amendment protection. The test has become known as the Meyers Matrix. The use of the Meyers Matrix test was never challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States. Now the Meyers test has been inappropriately used to test if a religious group of a recognized religion deserves protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA. Testimony of cultural anthropologist Dr. Deborah Pruitt, PhD, who specializes in many non-mainstream religions, revealed the Meyers test is highly skewed against a great number of recognized religions. Government, in an attempt to avoid the requirement of showing “a compelling government interest” for burdening the free “Exercise of Religion”, has chosen a new and innovative path of getting around that requirement. First government attorneys declared the religion was “a Bastardized form” of the religion. Then went on to declare, what synonymously amounts to claiming because the leader of a Christian church was no Christ, the church did not deserve the constitutional protection a religion enjoys. This wasn’t enough insult to freedom of religion, government turned to a Priest of another sect of the religion, as an expert witness, in an attempt to prove another religious group incorrectly interprets the teachings, practices, and modes of worship of their common faith. This move showed a total disrespect for prior decisions of the Supreme Court, like the one quoted above. In the end it didn’t matter that government attempted to test one sect against another. Government’s hoped results from such an attempt backfired. The testimony of government’s expert witness from the common faith ended up showing the small group might actually more correctly interpret many elements of their common faith. With the prior method failing it was up to the, recently appointed, Federal Judge to put the hammer down. U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera had her own methods of depriving religious freedoms. She decided to count the elements that were not met in the Meyers test, and then call that which was met “dicta,” which allowed her to not count that part of the test when arriving at a deciding average of whether or not the beliefs qualify for religious protections. By that move, and a determination that the “mantra” considered the “moral and ethical compass,” of this recognized religion, provided no moral or ethical guidance, the judge ruled that not enough factors of the Meyer Matrix were met to qualify for religious protections under RFRA or the First Amendment. End of story, the beginning of the end of a once highly honored protection amongst Americans. The only hope now is through contacting your representatives and asking them to investigate and put a halt to this disregard for cherished human rights. For more information visit http://danmary.org
Location: 
NM
United States

Ganja Guru retrial begins

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
AXcess News (KY)
URL: 
http://www.axcessnews.com/index.php/articles/show/id/11002

Opening statements set for today in the retrial of marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
KSBY 6 (CA)
URL: 
http://www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?S=6516392

Hempfest marches onward

Location: 
OH
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Lantern (OH)
URL: 
http://media.www.thelantern.com/media/storage/paper333/news/2007/05/14/Campus/Hempfest.Marches.Onward-2903077.shtml

State Assembly approves hemp farming bill

Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Napa Valley Register (CA)
URL: 
http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2007/05/11/news/national/doc464403f1d635a764646808.txt

Letter from Virginia Resner (President of Green Aid) about Ed Rosenthal: Count Down to Trial

Dear Friends: At the last two hearings, on April 13 and 20, Judge Breyer urged the prosecutor to drop Ed Rosenthal's case. The judge was trying to prevent the feds from marching straight ahead into a quagmire, just like in Iraq. Using the same wisdom they have shown on other issues, they decided to forge ahead. Trial begins in two weeks. We need to raise $100,000. We are asking for your help because Ed's case will change marijuana policy for all of us. This is a totally political case: what's on trial is the future of medical marijuana. The court has already agreed that Ed cannot receive any more time, since he has already served his sentence. Federal prosecutors are hoping to use this trial to close all the dispensaries in California. If Ed wins acquittal, it can change their misguided policies. We need your help right now to send a message to Washington. Ed is being defended by a dynamic team of attorneys mentored by Tony Serra, who share his disdain for these cruel and unjust policies. Even though they are working at a reduced rate, funds are still needed for courtroom transcripts, expert witnesses, investigators and all the other resources necessary to explain the whole truth to the jury. The publicity campaign is also expensive but necessary to educate the media and the public about what's really at stake. Ed's case has already backfired on the government. During the first trial, public interest in medicinal marijuana skyrocketed. The media was extremely favorable and supportive. It was a huge victory for patients, providers, and the drug policy reform movement. Keith Stroup, founder of NORML said, "The world changes when people like Ed Rosenthal stand up and fight back." Why? Because this is not a criminal case, it's a political one. Ed's already served his sentence. With this in mind, the trial is a farce similar to that of the Chicago Seven or the Scopes Monkey Trial. The Chicago Seven changed how people viewed Vietnam-era protestors. The Scopes Monkey Trial changed how people viewed the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution, in a courtroom battle that pitted science against myth and superstition. That's exactly what we want to accomplish when Ed goes to court May 14 -- show that the government's position on medical marijuana not only lacks any medical or scientific credibility, it hurts people. This trial will convince more people that the government is spending billions of dollars to maintain a policy that is out-of-touch, cruel and has no rational basis. At the same time we are protecting the democratic process in the 12 states that have made the compassionate decision to allow medical marijuana. We've all wanted to change the laws for a long time. By making a generous contribution to Green Aid today, your funds will go directly to this upcoming trial. Raise some funds for Ed, and he'll make sure the public takes notice. Make a donation now at http://www.green-aid.com or you can send a check to Postal Mail Box #172, 484 Lake Park Ave., Oakland, CA 94610 We need contributions small and large. All are appreciated. If you can afford them consider these award levels. Guardian: $1000 "One Percenter": $3000 (this is 1% of the total cost of the trial of $300,000) Hero: $5000 or more. Thank you for your continuing support. We can't win without you! Don't think of it as helping just Ed. He's is on the front line to help all of us. Help him help you. Sincerely, Virginia Resner President of Green Aid "Most people would have backed down, but not Ed. He's in this to the end. We owe him for that." -- Jack Herer "Ed's not a flight risk. He's in this case till the bitter end." -- Magistrate Chin: "Most people considering their circumstances for one reason or another are forced to give in under the weight of government pressure. I have the privilege and opportunity to be able to stand for all the people who've been harassed and hounded by the government." -- Ed Rosenthal
Location: 
United States

Pain Medicine: Dr. Hurwitz Convicted of 16 Counts in Retrial

Prominent Northern Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz was convicted last Friday on 16 counts of drug trafficking after a jury for the second time decided that he had overstepped the bounds of legitimate medical practice in prescribing large doses of opioid pain relievers to patients. Hurwitz' original conviction was overturned on appeal, and supporters hoped he would walk free after his second trial.

But the 12-member jury instead found him guilty on the 16 counts, not guilty on 17 others, and presiding Judge Leonie Brinkema dismissed the remaining 12 counts, saying she did not want jurors to have to come back and deliberate further. Brinkema had earlier dismissed the most serious charges against Hurwitz -- that his prescribing had caused the death of a patient and injury to two others.

Brinkema's dismissal of the remaining counts irked prosecutor Arthur Rossi, who behaved like a sore winner after managing to run up enough convictions against Hurwitz to send him to prison for centuries. Although he could be sentenced to time served,
he could also get up to 20 years in prison on each count. He has been jailed since he was originally found guilty in November 2004.

Still, although Hurwitz and his defense team would be hard-pressed to claim victory, he is in a substantially better position than after his first conviction. In his first trial, Hurwitz was found guilty of 50 of 62 felony counts, including causing the death of one patient and injury to two others. He was sentenced to 25 years by Judge Leonard Wexler, five more than the mandatory minimum he faced for the patient death. In the current case, the number of convictions against him has shrunk dramatically, the counts of patient death and injury were dismissed, and while he theoretically faces up to 320 years in prison, none of the counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence.

He may also fare better before Judge Brinkema, who has demonstrated fairness from the bench. That's in contrast to the judge in his original trial, the irascible Leonard Wexler, whose performance during the first Hurwitz trial raised serious questions about his fairness and objectivity.

While prosecutors portrayed Hurwitz as little more than a drug dealer, pain patients and their advocates saw him as a brave and heroic figure who prescribed necessary drugs for patients with nowhere else to turn.

The case "is not about the lawful practice of medicine... but rather about the unlawful drug trafficking of pain medication," said US Attorney Chris Rosenberg. "Drug traffickers come in all shapes and sizes. This one just happened to wear a white coat and be a doctor."

But Richard Sauber, a lawyer for Hurwitz, said defense attorneys are "disappointed in the verdict. We think that Dr. Hurwitz was a doctor first and foremost and not a drug dealer." He added that Hurwitz "saved a number of lives."

New York Times science reporter John Tierney, who has covered the trial in great detail on his TierneyLab blog, spoke with several jurors after the verdict was announced and reported that "they said that the jury considered Dr. William Hurwitz to be a doctor dedicated to treating pain who didn't intentionally prescribe drugs to be resold or abused. They said he didn't appear to benefit financially from his patients' drug dealing and that he wasn't what they considered a conventional drug trafficker."

Then why did they find him guilty of "knowingly and intentionally" distributing drugs "outside the bounds of medical practice" and engaging in drug trafficking "as conventionally understood"? Tierney asked. "After attending the trial and talking to the jurors, I can suggest two possible answers: 1. The jurors were confused by the law. 2. The law is an ass (to quote Mr. Bumble from 'Oliver Twist')."

The law may be an ass, but it's enough to send Dr. Hurwitz to prison for the rest of his life. The verdict is a victory for federal prosecutors in their war on what they regard as excessive prescribing of pain medication. Chronic pain patients are unlikely to be as pleased.

Mixed Result in Hurwitz Case

See NYT's John Tierney's initial post-Hurwitz trial blog post. Not the result we were hoping for by any means. On the other hand, the last time was far worse, and according to eyewitness accounts the prosecutors seemed really disappointed too. Judge Brinkema has the power to give a much less draconian sentence or even time served, and her handling of the case seemed pretty reasonable; we'll find out in July what she decides.
Location: 
United States

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