The 3-minute interview: Ed Rosenthal

The East Bay marijuana advocate and columnist for High Times Magazine during the late 1980s held his third annual cannabis festival in The City recently and is working on an appeal of a May 31 conviction for charges related to cultivating and distributing marijuana.

What is the basis of your appeal? The judge did not let my lawyers argue before a jury that my work [to grow and distribute marijuana for the Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco] was allowed by Oakland officials. I want to present witnesses, evidence.

There has been a wave of pot club shutdowns recently throughout the Bay Area. What are the main problems facing cities and pot-club permits? The whole problem is that the criminal justice system is the only demographic that wants to keep marijuana illegal. It’s a $30 billion industry for them and they don’t want to lose the money they’ll reap from the prohibition of marijuana. All the district attorney’s offices and police departments should not be sitting at the table when it comes to talking about pot clubs.

What is a fair compromise for cities and people who want to open up pot clubs? Cities should have the same zoning for pot clubs as they do for pharmacies. They’re both dispensing medicine.

Ten years down the line, what will happen to pot clubs and the status of marijuana? I’ve been bad at these predictions in the past. In the ’60s, I thought that marijuana would be legal. But I’m proud to say that I’ve cost the system about $10 million in their case against me. If all they want is to stop me from advocating marijuana and promoting the legality of it, they should just give me the $10 million and I’ll shut up. Maybe I won’t, but that’d be nice, right?

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