MMA referee Josh Rosenthal has received a 37-month prison term, 3 years probation, and a $100 fine for his part in an illegal large-scale marijuana operation. The sentence is similar to the plea deal he struck earlier this year, but with his time on probation reduced from five years to three years.
Rosenthal’s legal issues stem from a Federal drug raid last August on a warehouse owned by the referee. Federal agents found 1,356 marijuana plants and illegal firearms in the warehouse, with the street value of the marijuana being estimated at over $6 million.
While medical marijuana is legal in California, distributors are still subject to arrest without various permits and approval from the state. It also must be remembered that Federal law also supersedes state law on marijuana. While the Department of Justice has relaxed prosecution of licensed growers in states that have passed marijuana legislation, Rosenthal’s operation was apparently unlicensed and also conspired to cross state lines.
Rosenthal was one of the more respected referees in MMA, and had apparently continued to officiate bouts in Utah and California over the past few months. The referee once received high praise from UFC president Dana White, who is notoriously harsh on referees and judges, for his handling of the UFC 116 main event between then-champion Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.