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Oct-19-2009 12:33printcomments

How Will New Fed Guidelines on Medical Marijuana Affect Charles C. Lynch?

Lynch remains out on $400,000.00 bail pending appeal, while eagerly waiting to see how this will affect his case.

Charles Lynch
Charles Lynch
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(LOS ANGELES) - The Associated Press broke a story late Sunday that the U.S. Department of Justice will be issuing new guidelines Monday to U.S. Attorneys regarding an official policy toward medical marijuana.

The Department of Justice posted the memorandum regarding those guidelines on their blog early Monday morning.

Advocates wonder if and how this will affect federal defendants who were raided, arrested, charged and convicted under the Bush Administration, like Charles C. Lynch.

Lynch was the last Federal medical cannabis defendant to be convicted under the Bush Administration, on August 5, 2008. He was also the first medical cannabis patient/provider to face sentencing under the Obama Administration for his operation of Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay, California.

In June 2009, Federal Judge, George H. Wu, had tentatively sentenced Lynch to a year and a day in federal prison for 5 felony charges all related to providing medical cannabis from his storefront dispensing collective. Wu said he would write his decision within a week, making the sentence official. That written decision has yet to be submitted by Wu.

Wu had asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for written clarification on how Attorney General Eric Holder’s February statements hinting at a new American medical cannabis policy would affect Lynch’s sentencing.

H. Marshall Jarrett, responded to Wu’s inquiry by stating “the Office of the Deputy Attorney General has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant [Lynch] are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions.”

Jarrett’s name appears as one of the carbon copy recipients of the latest DOJ memo. It remains to be seen if this memo will affect Lynch’s yet-to-be-released sentence.

Lynch and his attorneys maintain that he followed state law but the courts prohibited the defense from presenting any state law or medical evidence in federal courts because the supreme courts have ruled state law compliance and medical proof as irrelevant in federal cases. Lynch has never even been charged in state court.

Lynch’s conviction stems from a 2007 raid and arrest conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Pat Hedges. Sources close to the case estimate the federal government has wasted over one million dollars on this case and the sheriff’s department wasted over $100,000.00.

The new memo specifically addresses the issue of limited federal resources, stating: “The Department is also committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources.”

Lynch supporters believe the DOJ has been inefficient and irrational with its use of resources in this case, especially since Lynch had the Morro Bay Mayor, Janice Peters, and City Attorney, Rob Schultz, testify on his behalf as a law abiding citizen. Lynch also had a business license that specifically stated it was a medical cannabis dispensary and a conditional use permit to have a medical cannabis nursery on site.

Also at issue here, Lynch was convicted of 2 counts of sales to minors. However, in drug cases, the federal government considers anyone under the age of 21 to be a minor. Whereas, Lynch had business license requirements that stated minors under the age of 18 years old had to be accompanied by their parent or guardian while in Lynch’s facility. In addition, California state law does not have an age limit on the use of doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

Lynch remains out on $400,000.00 bail pending appeal, while eagerly waiting to see how this will affect his case. There are plenty of others like Lynch who have been convicted in federal court but never charged in state court. All their lives have been ruined by bad policy regarding medical cannabis.

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Chris Killz Blog October 19, 2009 4:43 pm (Pacific time)

Let's hope sanity prevails. Its already a little late for justice, but hopefully the Government will cut its moral losses now before they really make themselves look bad once again for the millionth+ time. Just for PR purposes you'd think the GOV would budge on this whole marijuana issue, but I guess plant liberation is too much to ask. Maybe if it cost $4000 an ounce and was available only from a major pharma company it would be OK. I don't know though, its not poisonous enough for the pharma (drug cartels) to carry. Maybe once they can develop a GMO strain with a vaccine built into it or something.

RainbeauxFamily October 19, 2009 1:55 pm (Pacific time)

Another balanced story - Thanks for the fair reporting. I especially liked the revelation of how much money DEA has wasted on the Charles Lynch persecution.

Daniel Johnson October 19, 2009 1:43 pm (Pacific time)

In retrospect, Lynch would have been better off to have murdered someone. The bail would have been less.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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