A federal judge issued a sentencing order Thursday stating that medical marijuana provider Charles C. Lynch was “caught in the middle of the shifting positions” on the issue. “Much of the problems could be ameliorated… by the reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I,” the judge wrote.
gained notoriety as a federal medical marijuana defendant who was prosecuted and convicted in 2008 under the Bush Administration, then sentenced after President Obama signaled a change in federal enforcement policy.
“Yet another federal judge has called on the government to reconsider the current status of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, of Judge George H. Wu’s 41-page sentencing order.
“Judge Wu’s sentencing order also begs the question of why the federal government is still prosecuting medical marijuana cases,” Elford said.
|Joe Elford, ASA: “Yet another federal judge has called on the government to reconsider the current status of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value”
Elford argued before Judge Wu last year that Lynch should be shown leniency, as no California state laws had been violated.
It has been more than 10 months since Judge Wu sentenced Lynch to one year and a day
, plus four years of supervised release, despite the five-year mandatory minimum being sought by the U.S. Justice Department.
Four months after the June 11, 2009 sentencing hearing, the Justice Department issued a directive in October to U.S. Attorneys, discouraging them from arresting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers.
Lynch remains released on bail pending his appeal, but cannot use medical marijuana according to the terms of his release.
After California legalized medical marijuana, Lynch opened a cannabis dispensary in Morro Bay, getting a license from the city and joining the Chamber of Commerce. Almost a year later, DEA agents raided his business.
Before the DEA raid in March 2007, Lynch had operated for 11 months without incident, and with the blessing of the Morro Bay City Council and other community leaders.
|Photo: Open Salon
|Charles C. Lynch carefully abided by California’s medical marijuana law — but was still sentenced to federal prison
Two months after Lynch close his dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, he was indicted and charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and concentrated cannabis, manufacturing more than 100 plants, knowingly maintaining a “drug premises,” and sales of marijuana to a person under the age of 21.
None of the federal charges of which Lynch was convicted constituted violations of local or state law.
Patients are currently prevented from using a medical necessity or a state law defense in federal court.
The Justice Department medical marijuana policy, announced in October 2009, has failed to deter the prosecution of more than two dozen pending federal cases.
In response, ASA is advocating for the passage of Congressional legislation — HR 3939, the Truth in Trials Act
— which would give state law-compliant defendants a fighting chance in federal court.