MMA Referee Josh Rosenthal Pleads Guilty in Major Marijuana Bust, Awaits Sentencing

April 18, 2013
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Josh Rosenthal UFC 119Mixed martial arts referee Josh Rosenthal, after pleading guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, awaits sentencing in U.S. District Court in Northern California on May 17.

The charges stem from a raid by federal agents on a warehouse owned by Rosenthal and his associate, Jeff Weller. The two are accused of operating a large-scale marijuana production and distribution facility in Oakland, Calif., according to an initial report by

The facility house more than 1,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of more then $6 million.

The government is recommending 37 months in jail, fines and five years of probation, during which he would be subject to random searches, according to an agreement obtained by

Without an agreement, Rosenthal faced the possibility of 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and a minimum of five years on probation.

Rosenthal has refereed fights at the highest level of the sport, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but has been absent from the sport for several months. Now, it appears, he is likely to be absent from MMA for quite some time to come.

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  • TheREalBajafox

    Oh man how is Nick going to get his premium grown weed now. I guess he will have to go on the juice and maybe get some muscle!!!

    • Cereal Killer

      Nick is such a turd.

  • bajafox

    The DEA is so full of themselves. No way in hell those plants are worth $6M, they would have to yield over 2lbs each just to crack that mark and for them to yield that much they would have to be the size of tree’s. More than likely they were small plants worth about $500 each for a total of less than a million.

    Giving him 37 months for selling weed is more than some people get for rape, the justice system is a joke.

    • Cereal Killer

      I agree the penalty system is a joke when compared to rape and murder, but they should punish him with a HUGE fine and some jail time. Long jail sentences should be saved for killers and rapists.

      • falloniousWolf

        and…then….a wise man…appears and says….”no killers and rapists do not deserve jail time…they deserve death.”

        You have no idea how the sentencing system works so be quiet. There is a lot of thinking involving in assigning jail time to offenses.

      • John Mathewson

        Wby not just fine him for tax evasion? Its just a plant that hurts no one. He made money from it so let him just claim it, pay a fine and maybe tax payers could get a break instead of paying to keep him in jail.

        • Cereal Killer

          You’re asking everyone to pretend it’s not illegal. You’re not saying “let him claim it,” you’re saying make weed legal.

          • 420ca

            weed is legal

  • Whether we like the laws or not owning a warehouse containing more then a 1,000 plants is just not acceptable in any way. Being involved in something like this is just asking for big trouble. Yes the justice system can be a joke but this is some serious stuff we’re talking about. He didn’t get caught with an ounce or even a pound or two which is even a lot IMO. We are talking a warehouse full of plants and distributing an illegal substance along with possible tax evasion. I have nothing against Josh, best of luck to him in the case but in general there’s no way to look good being involved with such an amount of plants.

    • Cereal Killer

      I do not wish him best of luck, as I do not wish a rapist or murderer best of luck. He deserves nothing less than huge fines and a few years behind bars. How can you not hold it against him that he just drug your favorite sport through the mud as a dirty business?

      • I only wish him best of luck with the case b/c I don’t know him personally and I don’t know the full story. It says he owned the warehouse along with a partner; that was it. Although he played a part in the sport by being a ref, I’m not sure if he represents the sport in a major way. The commission is in control of who they hire to ref and I know nothing about his personal/criminal history. I’m sure he’ll be losing his license. A manager at a fast food establishment does not represent the entire fast food industry because of their involvement in an incident. That’s just how I’m looking at it. I get more upset seeing guys pop for steroids. That’s what really drags the sport into the mud as a dirty business.

      • Chris

        Im not a stoned so i will kill that rebuttal with my comment but this is absurd, comparing murderers and rapists with a marijuana grower. Give. Me. A. Break.

        • chris

          not a stoner** autocorrect

        • Cereal Killer

          I just meant that I don’t have pity for any criminal, no matter what the crime. When you knowingly and willingly break the law, I wish nothing but the worst for you in the court system.

          • Blackbelt1401

            Shit…I’d hate to be caught jaywalking (is that what it’s called in the USA?) in your hometown if you were in charge. You’d wish ‘nothing but the worst’ for me in the court system? I imagine guys who are in for minor crimes come out of your prison system changed forever. And not in a positive way, in most cases…

    • Milosc

      Why do you accept a rule without questioning it’s merit? What is so unacceptable with a million “plants”, if he feels like growing them? They’re goddamn plants. This is about a group of people who made an opinion. There’s a disconnect happening here

      I don’t mean to single you out, but it’s thought processes like this who scare me the most. More than the greedy special interests making ridiculous policies, it’s the blind obedience and lack of self with those who carry it out. Just standing there, waiting to be told what to do

      • Whether we like it or not it’s illegal. If it wasn’t illegal I would have no issue with him doing it. And we’re talking over 1,000 plants. I can’t wait to hear Joe Rogans thoughts on this issue though.

        • Milosc

          Teaching a Slave or an Indian to read was “illegal”. Like I said, there’s a disconnect happening here

          *(Search: “Asch Conformity Experiment”)

      • And I’m all for marijuana being legal. I actually wish alcohol was illegal and marijuana legal. I wouldn’t personally being using it if it were but I have no issue with people using it.

        • MuayThaiFood

          That’s kind of a ridiculous statement right there. You never read about prohibition? They should both be legal for the same reasons. If it’s illegal it just goes underground and the only people who benefit are criminals. Sell it at the local minit-mart and you can tax the hell out of it and you don’t have Mexican cartels growing it on our Federal and State lands. Either one is relatively harmless if you don’t abuse it. The money saved (less people in jail and prison) and generated by taxes could be used for education and treatment programs for those that want them.

      • KimuraFTW

        My thoughts exactly. I don’t use it, but why should you lose your freedom over growing, possessing, or using plants? I guess rules are rules. Just do whatever they say huh?

  • Milosc

    Yeah Josh Rosenthal!!!

    Didn’t know you had it in you, buddy!

    *The guy is not a criminal and this system is a complete joke. “10 years to life” for a p-l-a-n-t, California? What-ever. I blame it on the “a$$hole” mindset, which is the real virus holding back society..

    • uh oh, another pothead thats going to over-simplify the situation to fit his completely irrelevant argument. lets try to simplify this more for you since you chose the P-L-A-N-T defense. ok, so as far as i am aware plants are things that one waters, nurtures, grows, and enjoys the beauty of. plants are things that add color or variety or presence to a garden.
      the problem here is that when it is torn apart and dried then set on fire it is NO LONGER A PLANT!! then it is a drug. and see, here in America, whether you agree with it or not, that is illegal. Suck it up. Pot will never ever be legal federally. plain and simple. but that is another discussion for another board.
      why do potheads always try to make very obvious and very simplistic arguments when it comes to this stuff?

      oh, and by the way, it was 1356 plants. not 1000. there is a pretty big difference there

      • Cereal Killer

        They are like NAMBLA members trying to justify sex with little boys. They love it and we just don’t understand!

      • Chris

        You totally missed the point of Milosc post, it was more about how much of a joke the justice system is. He should get a HUGE fine (and have to provide proof that his payments for said fine were made legitimately) and probation with maybe minimal jail time. Is what he did illegal? Sure ok. But also keep in mind in some parts of our country Marijuana is legal already and will be available to buy in store soon enough.

        • falloniousWolf

          Name one part of our country where growing, distributing, or consumption of marijuana for purposes other than those related to medicine is legal.

          • MuayThaiFood

            Washington and Oregon if you’re talking at the State level, which you must be since you mentioned medical marijuana because that’s not legal under Federal law either.

          • MuayThaiFood

            Oops, I meant Washington and Colorado.

      • Kenny powers

        Haha typical close minded anti-marijuana conservative. Your so full of sh!t. Any way you slice it, its still a plant, and regardless of how many plants he was growing, to give this guy any jail time is crazy. Its funny how you say potheads use the simple “its a plant” argument, when you use the even simpler “its illegal” argument. It is just a plant, and the fact that its illegal is because its cant be controlled and taxed or patented for prescription drug companies because you can grow it yourself, so the government, just like the mob, will put you in jail if they find out your making $ and not sharing with them. So educate yourself about the facts and stop being a narrow minded robot.

        • falloniousWolf

          The government does not prosecute drug dealers for failure to pay taxes.

          The government is like the mob….o..k.

          You sound like wannabe pro-weed robot.

      • Milosc

        Your thinking matches you opinion

        Everything is cookie-cutter assumptions and characters from TV. You have no idea who I am or what I’ve accomplished, but enjoy the social-engineered delusion

        A plant is a plant, you idiot. It doesn’t care. Calling it names is a pointless construct of your own mind. Caligula appointed a horse as consul to the Roman senate because of people like you

      • Sheeple

        According to your simpleton argument all firewood is a drug. Cannabis will be legal federally, states are pushing to legalize all over the union, it is only a matter of time. We the “pot heads” are winning, for every warehouse they knock down five more pop up. Morons like you champion tax money wasted to stop cannabis that has been proven harmless and in many ways helpful to people, while you say nothing about big pharma killing people by the thousands with designer drugs or alcohol which kills and destroys more lives than anything but that’s legal so you don’t mind do you, don’t question the laws no matter how dumb right?

        As smart as you think you are in the end, you’re just a f****** sheep.

  • Adza

    First reported by MMAJunkie…heh…funny.

    • Mr. get real ppl

      Many of you are naive. The reality is he must have had a doctor issued prescription to grow this weed or he could then be considered an idiot if he did not. Next, if a doctor recommended him to grow this quantity or he is a care giver (a grower for other medicinal patients) to grow this amount he and his partner assumed they were within state laws to do what they were doing.

      Now I know federal law still considers cannabis illegal, but if federal law can supersede it when it feels the need too (yes I am implying that this process is selective) why even have state laws? ??

      I just feel that the government should shut down the dr/cannabis/grow/smoke/eat/medical on a state level or stay out of it on a state level. Don’t contradiction our voted on laws. state level or

  • Chuckyd

    The Funny part is the dea aka the us government takes millions of tax dollars from the legal sell of weed in California. The only real problem they had was that they didn’t get their cut, and that’s what really pisses off old Uncle Sam. It’s just a shame the government profits from weed, and at the same time puts people behind bars for it. Hypocrisy much?

  • Jason Decipher

    However you wanna look at it Rosenthal could have been a little more conservative. I know if you have your California state marijuana exception you can possess a few plants & if you have a growers permit you can legally by the state grow & sell to clinics.Why would someone especially Rosenthal an MMA ref get popped for so many plants. I mean how obvious can you be? If he had grown less with a growers permit he could have atleast had a better defense. The growers permits aren’t even that expensive. I know cause I have stoner buddies & U don’t even smoke. You brought this on yourself Rosenthal

  • Crimson Baboon

    “The facility house more than 1,000…” & “… of more then $6 million.”
    Do these “journalists” read, edit, or spell-check their work before publishing it? Or, do they just try and crank out the most articles without regard for quality, or any sense of pride in their work?

  • shaun jones

    “sentencing” “pot” “facepalm”