Loading

No Oscars for Medical Marijuana Providers

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director February 25, 2009

    by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors

    The morning after the Academy Awards a band of protestors gathered in Los Angeles on the corner of Main Street and Temple St outside the federal courthouse. They were not there for the Oscars. But one day someone will make a movie about the person they were there for. It may be called ‘Inherit the Wind: the Sequel.’

    The protestors were marijuana patients and medical use advocates gathering in behalf of one Charles C. Lynch (photo below of Lynch’s medical cannabis dispensary opening), who was convicted in a United States court last summer of operating a medical marijuana dispensary in violation of federal laws. The organizers have no red carpet. They just wanted to draw public attention to Lynch’s case hoping that the 46-year old man does not spend decades in prison for giving medicine to sick people.

    California is one of thirteen states in which medical marijuana is legal, but federal law prohibits its use under any circumstances. That means that though Mr. Lynch obeyed local and state laws, he nevertheless became a federal prisoner. That means he is a victim of American injustice at its worst.

    Mr. Lynch was convicted at trial, denied under the Federal Rules of Evidence from presenting any testimony whatsoever about medical marijuana, his own city business license, or the California state law he dutifully and righteously obeyed. A jury thus only heard that some man was selling marijuana to line his pockets, and they convicted him, as a San Francisco jury once convicted Ed Rosenthal.

    We had another trial like that in America. It was called the Scopes trial, and as I recall, a schoolteacher was prosecuted for teaching science in his class and then denied the right to present testimony regarding evolution at his trial.

    On February 4, a White House Spokesman named Nick Shapiro said that President Obama did not want to waste federal law enforcement resources circumventing state medical marijuana laws. Mr. Shapiro opined that he expected the President’s new appointees to consider this when setting policy for their agencies. How about having one of them show up at the sentencing for Mr. Lynch? How about directing the US Attorney to stand down? I am available if they want to send me.

    Somewhere in Hollywood, a producer, watching news footage of this honorable protest, will sit in his studio, and remark, ‘This will make a good film.’ Years down the road, a younger version of Sean Penn will accept an Oscar for having portrayed a role about a middle aged man who started a legitimate business dispensing marijuana to sick people. It will show him struggling to open the collective, reaching out to his consumers, helping out his neighbors, and raising his family. Then the scene will switch to federal SWAT agents smashing down his door, arresting him and locking him up. A US Attorney will then put him in jail for violating federal laws. Freed years later, his community will see him as a hero and martyr, not a villain or thief.

    While gay people were being beaten mindlessly in alleys for decades, someone may have said the same of Harvey Milk’s inspirational calling in San Francisco for gay rights. But he was not alive for the motion picture. He was gunned down. For Mr. Lynch and his family, there is no time for a movie tomorrow. This is real life. He is being gunned down today.

    Unless our President does something, he is going to jail for years. And no academy award will ever remedy that terrible injustice.

    Norm Kent is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale and a member of the NORML Board of Directors, who publishes The Broward Law Blog

    Here are some related links, courtesy of Americans for Safe Access:

    -White House Statement on Medical Cannabis: safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=5665

    -Drew Carey/Reason TV documentary short on Lynch: reason.tv/video/show/413.html

    -Recent Los Angeles Times story on the trial: latimes.com/news/local/la-me-weed26-2008jul26,0,6418930.story

    -Friends of Charles C. Lynch website: friendsofccl.com

    61 Responses to “No Oscars for Medical Marijuana Providers”

    1. lori says:

      This is one of the many many reasons we need to legalize cannabis, and CA is getting the ball rolling.The rest of the country will follow. GO CA GO

    2. Richard says:

      What is Obama and his staff waiting on? So far our president has served us well with lip service. When it comes to speakers, he’s gotta be one of the best speakers I’ve heard…Unfortunetly he’s a politician first and foremost!!! Change??? Please!!!

    3. typodemon says:

      What is wrong with our country? I hope this blows up in the media. I can’t believe he isn’t allowed to testify. Thanks for this article…I guess…definatly gooing to ruin the rest of my day.

    4. David says:

      A great injustice is being dealt to Mr. Lynch. Many more people should be angry and LOUD about it. This is the biggest BS ever!!

    5. The Dude says:

      Sometimes it makes me sick to be an American, to be a citizen of a country that does this type of injustice to our own is one of those times!!!!
      Lynch should have been a hero not just another easy bust for the DEA!!
      Then there is the other pain and suffering to the patients who were deprived their prescribed medicine.
      Our law enforcement wears the uniform of hate, and they hate everyone who does not wear their uniform!!!

    6. […] On February 4, a White House Spokesman named Nick Shapiro said that President Obama did not want to waste federal law enforcement resources circumventing state medical marijuana laws. Mr. Shapiro opined that he expected the President’s new appointees to consider this when setting policy for their agencies. How about having one of them show up at the sentencing for Mr. Lynch? How about directing the US Attorney to stand down? I am available if they want to send me. (more…) […]

    7. […] NORML Blog » Blog Archive » No Oscars for Medical Marijuana Providers […]

    8. Jeff says:

      Thas Crazy…

      Spendin Years In Prison FoR Helping The Sick~

    9. Let Obama Know! says:

      Presidential pardons anyone? Let’s see Obama keep his word and put an end to these injustices that are taking place on his watch.

    10. crash says:

      This man should do no jail time the feds should drop all charges. he was doing the right thing under california state law he should be left alone to do his business.

    Leave a Reply