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IACM-Bulletin of 16 February 2003

USA: Jurors say cannabis grower did not get a fair trial

"In an unusual show of solidarity with the man they convicted last week, five jurors in the trial of a medicinal marijuana advocate issued a public apology to him today and demanded that the judge grant him a new trial," the New York Times wrote on 5 February.

The jurors said they had been unaware that the defendant, Ed Rosenthal, was growing marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowed since 1996 under California state law, when they convicted him on drug cultivation. The judge in the case, Judge Charles R. Breyer of Federal District Court, had ruled that his lawyers could not explain why the drug was being grown.

"We obviously came up with the wrong verdict. It's the most horrible mistake I've ever made in my entire life," jury member Marney Craig said in an interview. "We convicted a man who is not a criminal. We unfortunately had no idea of who he was or what he did. Ed Rosenthal did not get a fair trial."

In a statement read outside the federal courthouse here, the five jurors said they would not have voted to convict Rosenthal if they had been allowed to consider the California law. The group said they represented the views of at least two others who had been among the 12-member jury.

"I am really grateful to the jurors," Rosenthal told Reuters. "It was very brave of them to come out and express their views." Rosenthal is to be sentenced in June and faces a minimum of five years in prison.

(Sources: New York Times of 5 February 2003, Reuters of 5 February 2003, Daily Telegraph of 9 February 2003)

News in brief

Canada: Appeal of cannabis ruling
The federal government is appealing last month's Superior Court of Ontario ruling that ordered the government to change its medicinal marijuana regulations until 9 July 2003 or provide a legal source and supply to sick people. "Laws which put seriously ill, vulnerable people in a position where they have to deal with the criminal underworld to obtain medicine they have been authorized to take, violates the constitutional right to security of the person," judge Sydney Lederman wrote in January. (Source: Toronto Sun of 11 Februray 2003)

Science: Milk intake by newborns
Cannabinoid-1 receptors and endocannabinoids play a critical role during the early suckling period in newborn mice. A cannabinoid receptor blocker given on the first day of life prevented milk ingestion and the mice died, given later the chance to survive increased. Genetically altered mice without cannabinoid-1 receptors (CB1 receptor knockout mice) did not ingest milk on the first day of life but started to drink on the second day. They were also affected by a CB1 receptor blocker, but not so much than normal mice. These observations support the existence of an unknown cannabinoid receptor with partial control over milk ingestion in newborns, the researchers wrote. Furthermore, mice without CB1 receptors seem to possess a compensatory mechanism which helps them overcome the lack of cannabinoid CB1 receptors. It is well-known that also in later life the activation of cannabinoid receptors increases appetite. (Source: Fride E, et al. EUR J Pharmacol 2003 Feb 7;461(1):27-34)

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