Medical marijuana provider Charles Lynch sentenced to 366 days in prison

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator June 11, 2009

    (LA Times) The owner of a Morro Bay pot dispensary who emerged as a key figure in the national debate over medical marijuana was sentenced to one year and one day in prison today by a federal judge in Los Angeles.

    Charles Lynch, 47, dressed in a dark suit, sat with his hands clasped and stared straight ahead as the sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu. Lynch declined the opportunity to address the court moments earlier. His mother, seated in the courtroom gallery nearby, fought back tears as Wu said he saw no way around imposing a sentence of at least one year.

    Lynch’s case made headlines nationwide and came to symbolize the tension between conflicting state and federal marijuana laws. Cultivating, using and selling doctor-recommended marijuana is allowed under some circumstances in California and about a dozen other states, but such activities are banned entirely under federal law.

    Lynch was prosecuted for illegally distributing marijuana from his Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers facility, despite having the blessing of Morro Bay’s mayor, city attorney and other civic leaders.

    The Obama Administration had signaled that it will not seek prosecutions and raids against medical marijuana dispensary owners who are acting in accordance with state laws.  Charles Lynch couldn’t have followed state laws more scrupulously, but that is a moot point in the federal courthouse, where defendants cannot even mention the medical nature of their legal state-approved business.

    This case highlights the need to pass Rep. Barney Franks’ Medical Marijuana Protection Act of 2009, to be introduced later today.  The bill would protect providers and patients in the thirteen medical marijuana states from harassment and prosecution by federal authorities (more on that bill later today).

    In the meantime, we can appeal to the man who can bring us some Change We Can Believe In, President Obama, who in the stroke of a pen can commute Charles Lynch’s sentence just as easily as former President Bush commuted former VP Chief of Staff Scooter Libby‘s sentence in the CIA agent-outing Valerie Plame case.  Mr. Lynch would remain convicted and retain a criminal record, but he would be spared of any prison time.  Or President Obama could do the truly honorable thing and pardon Mr. Lynch just as easily as former President Ford pardoned former President Nixon, absolving him of any conviction or prison time.

    The Change we’d like to see is our Federal Government respecting the will of the people in thirteen states regarding medical use of marijuana and our President living up to his campaign promises to focus his Justice Department resources on more urgent matters.

    Call President Obama at 202-456-1111.
    Tell him to commute the sentence of
    Charles Lynch or pardon him outright!

    50 responses to “Medical marijuana provider Charles Lynch sentenced to 366 days in prison”

    1. mlhiatt says:

      I’m glad I smoke, ’cause this s#it makes me wanna puke…

    2. […] from:  Medical marijuana provider Charles Lynch sentenced to 366 days in prison Share and […]

    3. General Jake says:

      Such a tragedy. He was ok under city and state laws. He shouldnt be prosecuted because our government cant get there shit straight. We should all start protesting the hell outta this. Picket outside where he does time.

    4. al menefee says:

      Like I said, when will you truly be free? When we stand up and demand a change, will we see a change. This man did all that was asked of him in order to run his business in accordance with STATE requirements. Federal laws are not applicable when A STATE has authority and the feds don’t….. This is why we need to get mad and make our demands heard and felt. Lets hurt them where it hurt’s the most, in the wallet. PEACE

    5. Scott says:

      WOW thanks President Obama, this sounds like change I can believe in. What the hell happened to his promise to stop federal raids on MMJ dispensaries, and stopping the prosecutions of MMJ patients and their caregivers?

    6. Weedy says:

      I ask you Obama.Do you find this a laughing matter? Is this the “change” you promised? if so i want my change back!

    7. jimbo,So.Jersry says:

      Mr. President, I thought you cared about all Americans. It seems to me that you are more concerned about Terrorist prisoners getting out of Guantanamo.Putting Charlie Lynch in jail is a tragic Injustice. I think you should work just as hard trying to free American citizens.

    8. Buc says:

      Judge Wu is an embarrassment.

      He doesn’t believe 1 year of Mr. Lynch’s life, 2 years on probation and the rest of his life as a convicted felon is worth his judge job. Don’t fool yourself, people. It’s not like he would never be able to find another job or is financially in shackles… like the man he sentenced, both literally and figuratively, Charlie Lynch.

      I hope that somehow, if God does impose real justice, people like Judge Wu will be punished severely for their roles in continuing these witch hunts and hiding behind the circular logic of ‘The law is the law’, ‘I don’t make the laws, I only enforce them’ or the Nuremberg excuse, ‘I’m just following orders.’

    9. Carol says:

      Yeah Charlie,
      We are all rooting for you. Good luck to you. Carol

    10. Da Vinci says:

      366 days of injustice !