Tax Charges Dismissed Against Pot Guru

March 13, 2007

Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press

A judge dismissed tax and money laundering charges Wednesday against a man who declared himself ``Guru of Ganja,'' after defense attorneys argued the prosecution was retaliation.

Ed Rosenthal, 62, still faces charges that he grew hundreds of plants for a medical marijuana dispensary.

Rosenthal successfully appealed his earlier conviction on drug charges because of misconduct by a juror. But federal prosecutors indicted him again in October over the same marijuana operation, adding four counts of hiding money and five counts of filing false tax returns.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer dismissed all the non-drug charges against Rosenthal, saying they were motivated by Rosenthal's appeal and complaints that his first trial was unfair.

``The government's deeds - and words - create the perception that it added the new charges to make Rosenthal look like a common criminal and thus dissipate the criticism heaped on the government after the first trial,'' Breyer wrote.

Rosenthal, a longtime pro-marijuana activist, has written books on how to grow marijuana and how to avoid getting caught. He was previously sentenced to a day in prison on three pot-growing felonies in 2003, and his attorney, Joe Elford, said he is likely to be set free for time served even if convicted again.

``There is really nothing left to this prosecution,'' he said.

Messages left with a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office were not immediately returned. A hearing to discuss the remaining charges was set for Friday.

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