Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 3, 2010
Pot spiritualist, advocate cashes in as expert court witness


Chris Conrad is no doctor and has no medical training. He isn't a lawyer either.

But he sure knows his way around California court rooms. And he earns an handsome income as an expert witness on how much pot may be deemed appropriate for personal use or could be considered possession for sale.

He is also an unabashed advocate of marijuana legalization and an author who celebrates using pot as a spiritual quest and in religious sacraments.

Conrad has been called as expert witness in 300 marijuana court cases and has consulted with lawyers and defendants in as many as 1,200 cases.

For that, the 56-year-old El Cerrito cannabis activist earns $140,000 a year as a consultant, including $40,000 a year as a direct witness in court -- always on the side of marijuana defendants.

That is according to Conrad's own testimony Tuesday in the Sacramento trial of Matthew Zugsberger of Upperlake.

Zugsberger, a medical marijuana patient, was charged with possession for sale and illegally transporting marijuana. Conrad was called by Zugsberger's defense lawyer - for a $1,500 fee.

He testified the three pounds of marijuana Zugsberger was carrying through Sacramento International Airport was appropriate for personal use, particularly because Zugsberger asserted he intended to consume his pot in food.

"I think it's a common dosing amount," Conrad testified.

Conrad, who holds a fine arts degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, says he has spent tens of thousands of hours studying weed and its medicinal benefits in California, Amsterdam and beyond. On his website, he bills himself as an "internationally respected authority on cannabis, industrial hemp, medical marijuana, cultivation, garden yields and cannabis culture."

But prosecutor Satnam Rattu aggressively challenged his impartiality and credentials in the Sacramento case.

And Conrad conceded that only three times in 300 trials he has agreed with authorities that marijuana was being possessed for sale. He also suggested that any amount up to 30 pounds may be appropriate in the hands of medical users.

Conrad, author of pro-marijuana books including "Hemp For Health" and "Hemp Lifeline to the Future" and another book examining whether Nostradamus predicted 9/11, is on the faculty of Oakland's acclaimed school of pot, Oaksterdam University.

He teaches political science and history, including this view from his writings: "Just as slavery is the great injustice of the 19th Century, so is marijuana prohibition in the 20th Century."

He's available to testify to that.

Pictured: Conrad at a cannabis college in Amsterdam. Photo by Mikki Norris.

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