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Interview with Ed Rosenthal

UPDATE: June 5, 2003 – Ed is FREE!
Ed Rosenthal was sentenced yesterday to ONE DAY in prison and was released on time served already. He was also fined $1300. This is a HUGE victory for Ed and pot smokers & growers & medical marijuana users everywhere!

Please note: On Jan. 31, 2003, Ed was convicted of marijuana cultivation despite the fact that he was granted permission by the City of Oakland to do just that (a fact that was witheld from the jury). Read more about Ed’s Trial
Please support Ed in his fight for Medical Marijuana Rights!

Interview with Ed Rosenthal
by Skip Stone

This is the first in a series of interviews with fascinating people who live in or frequently visit Amsterdam and Holland.

SS: Ed, how long have you been studying and writing about growing marijuana?
ER: I’ve been studying about plants since I was 11 years old and about marijuana since I was 21 (about 35 years ago).

SS: How has the science of growing advanced over the years? What are the hot new technologies and where are they being tested and employed?
ER: It went from growing large plants in soil outdoors, to the Sea of Green methods growing smaller plants indoors, using special plant soil mixes and hydroponically and that’s a major change. Using CO2 with sensors and sodium lamps is ten-year old technology and there has been no real advances in growing since then.
The new technology is not so much in growing right now as in using the plant material and by-products, like hash production from the leaf, vaporizers and sublingual methods rather than smoking. Before people would throw away their leaf. Now they realize it’s a valuable product.

SS: Do you favor legalization or decriminalization?
ER: I’m for total legalization, but it won’t happen until 2005, after the Bush presidency.

SS: Have you ever felt persecuted for your marijuana advocacy?
ER: Every marijuana user is persecuted, in every country in the world.

SS: Do you believe that pot is stronger now than before (more THC content), or is it just that we’re more selective about what we are willing to smoke?
ER: There are cultivation techniques that can give you a higher percentage of THC in a plant, but nobody’s using it. (Ed hints that this is one of his upcoming projects along with marketing his custom designed soil mixtures).

SS: Is smoking the more concentrated forms of cannabis like hashish healthier?
ER: The purer the form of THC, and the less vegetative material you smoke the better off you are. That’s why vaporizers are so important!

SS: Vaporizers are cleaner, but I feel there’s something missing when you use a vaporizer.
ER: What’s missing is your learned behavior. Because you have certain signals that indicate to you that you’re about to get high. Like Pavlov’s dog, you’ve been trained that when you get a hit in your lungs, you recognize that that’s the first step to getting high. And you’re missing those indications when you’re dealing with the vaporizer. Because you don’t get that heavy smoke into your lungs that gives you the signal time to get high.
SS: Are you sure it’s not just the usual oxygen depravation which occurs when you smoke weed the normal way that is missing from vaporizing?
ED: It could be that or the fact that some vaporizers don’t work very well.

Note: Vaporizers are supposed to heat cannabis only until the point at which the THC vaporizes, without burning the plant itself. This is supposed to be healthier with far less tars and other toxic gases being released.

Ed is impressed with a new method of water extraction that yields more hash than just bubble bags alone. Ed and I had recently visited Mila Jansen, the inventor of the Pollinator, a machine resembling a tumble dryer that knocks the THC off the plant and onto a screen for producing hashish. She demonstrated a new technique using an old style Dutch washing machine, the kind with a top lid that opens onto a rotating steel drum with another door inside. She explained her technique which is similar to using just bubble bags, but once she’s done adding water and ice, she just sets it to program B. That’s it. Just push a button on the washer and eventually you have Ice-o-Lator hashish! And very pure I might add. Mila says this yields 30% more product than the bubble bags.

SS: I love this bubble (Ice-o-Lator) hash. (I’m waving the bag in front of Ed). I’m a hash connoseiur from way back!
ER: Um… I’d be willing to smoke some, by the way…
SS: Oh, I’m soooo sorry! I’m such a bad host. We’re a half hour into this interview and I haven’t even offered you a bowl! Here you go Ed. (I hand Ed my stash of Mila’s Ice-o-Lator hash and a waterpipe.) We laugh and continue to discuss this new Ice-o-Lator hash technology as Ed takes a deep hit and coughs.
ER: Soon washing machines are going to be illegal! (laughter). I wanna see the new Maytag Ads!

We chuckle as we each picture the lonely Maytag repair man getting stoned on Ice-o-Lator hash waiting for the phone to ring….

SS: They’re gonna have to put a new setting on the machine.
ER: Yeah, ice!
SS: And they should have a special rinse cycle for cannabis!

SS: Do you think this is now the most potent hash available?
ER: Not really. When you get just the glands, it forms into a hard hash ball. When you put fire to it, it liquifies and doesn’t reharden. You can refine this further.
SS: And you can also remove any mold present in the pot.
ER: Yes, the mold is water soluable so it goes out.

SS: In the states, an extract like this, legally it’s not considered the same as marijuana anymore. It comes under much heavier penalties.
ER: You know it’s much, much more dangerous! You know 10 times as many people have died from hash as from marijuana last year. (he says with a knowing smile).
SS: Yeah, Zero! It’s horrible stuff! (laughter).

SS: Do your kids smoke?
ER: My son told me many times that he’ll never use pot. He’s graduating as president of his senior class and is going to an Ivy League college.
SS: So why doesn’t he smoke?
ER: He says ‘Just look at you and your friends!’ (We look at each other and crack up laughing!).

SS: So do you recommend that parents get involved with cannabis to ensure that their kids go to Ivy league schools? (more laughter).
ER: I know people who say ‘I used to hide it from my parents, now I hide it from my kids’. If you’re hypocritical or lie to your kids, they’ll know it. So you might as well be upfront with them and share your knowledge and experience. When they know you’re going to be honest with them, they will seek your guidance.

SS: Do you find the pot industry to be dominated by men?
ER: Pot is especially dominated by men. Something like 70% of all pot smokers are male. The percentage of (male) growers in even higher. I think I would’ve been better off as a rock and roll star! I would’ve still had drugs but much more sex! (laughter). I’m real popular with high school guys, Ed laments.

SS: If you could have it your way, how would you integrate marijuana with an enlightened society?
ER: It’s a soporific. It will lose it’s cult appeal when it’s legal. Marijuana makes people feel more individualistic.

Ed is very active in seeking to raise awareness of the medical uses of cannabis. I asked Ed about the case now before the Supreme Court, that pits the Oakland Cannabis Club against the U.S. government. Ed was there for the presentation of the oral arguments by the lawyers for the club and the government. The main issue being considered is whether a Club can distribute marijuana based upon medical necessity despite it being against federal law. If the court rules in favor of the Club, or allows the appeals court decision (in favor) to stand, it could remove the primary obstacle against medical marijuana in the U.S., the federal law which states that marijuana is not a medicine.

Note: This case has now been decided against the Oakland Cannabis Club, but the ruling was narrowly applied to growing and distributing, as not being justified by medical necessity (this doesn’t apply to possessing and using). So while it didn’t provide the breakthrough many were hoping, it still has had virtually no effect on the situation in California. According to Ed, there are now 35 medical marijuana clubs or more in the Bay area.

Referring to the California situation, Ed says The state is between a rock and a hard place. It must try to enforce an unenforcible law (prop. 215), which is very unpopular. A couple of jury trials going for the defendent could crash those walls down.

When asked about the European scene, Ed sees Switzerland’s relatively lax laws on growing as being a boon to growers there. Already Switzerland is supplying a good portion of Europe’s cannabis. This year has seen laws decriminalizing the use and possession of marijuana take effect in Belgium and Portugal, with enforcement of existing laws declining in the U.K and Germany. And now Canada has acted to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

I asked Ed if he thought marijuana could replace alcohol’s role in society. He pointed out that the Dutch experiment proved that cannabis results in less aggression and criminal activity than alcohol. Marijuana is far less harmful to society than currently acceptable social drugs like alcohol and tobacco. But is society ready to accept it as a legal recreational activity?



Ed Rosenthal, the Guru of Ganja, has been teaching the ins and outs of marijuana cultivation for over 18 years through columns in magazines like High Times and now Cannabis Culture. He’s the author of many books (over 1 million sold) on marijuana growing, including the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook.


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Ed is a member of the ICRS, the International Cannabis Research Society. It meets this year in Barcelona, Spain.



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Ed hosts the ‘420 Report,’ a radio show on KPFA, a SF bay area station that’s part of the Pacifica group (you can listen on the internet at www.kpfa.org). It airs the last Wednesday of every month and includes news, a discussion of the issues, a calendar of events and an Ask Ed segment where Ed answers questions about growing.

Ed’s current project is ‘The Big Book of Buds’ A collection of outstanding photos from the world’s great seed breeders. Look for his new book around Christmas.



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