Posted by Don Duncan
More than 100 protesters gathered in at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles today to call for leniency in the March 23 sentencing of Charles C. Lynch, who was convicted in August of operating a medical cannabis facility in Morro Bay. The protesters called on Judge Wu to keep Lynch out of jail and asked President Obama to move quickly in changing federal policy.
The crowd and a dozen journalists heard emotional words from Lynch’s mother, Bodine Jones. “I already lost one son to diabetes,” Jones said in a broken voice. “I’m not going to stand by while they take another from me.” At age 46, Lynch faces decades in prison if he receives the harsh mandatory minimum sentences the US Attorney is seeking. Ms. Jones said she will hold San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Hedges responsible for turning her son’s case over to the DEA, and she is reaching out to state and federal officials – including President Obama – on her son’s behalf.
<Pictured above: Lynch’s sister, Amanda Garcia (left), Charles C. Lynch (center), and his mother Bodine Jones (right)>
LA County Public Defender Guy Iverson told the crowd that Lynch was the most decent man ever convicted in the courthouse. Iverson told the crowd that one of his own son’s told him that he wanted to be a public defender so he could help people like Lynch, too. Iverson and his colleagues mounted a robust and innovative defense, but as in all federal medical cannabis cases, testimony about medical cannabis was excluded and jury instructions left no option for discretion.
Lynch spoke to the crowd dressed in a satirical orange jump suit with a string of silk hemp leaves tied around his head. He thanked the crowd and event organizer Cheryl Aichele for her tireless support on his behalf. Cheryl adopted Lynch’s cases as a personal crusade after responding to a call for court support from ASA.
Grassroots support for Lynch has been strong, and a Reason.TV documentary by Drew Carey about the trial has drawn national media attention. The Los Angeles medical cannabis community has embraced Lynch as a kind of medical cannabis Everyman, and sees him as a victim caught between state and federal law. It is unclear whether this tremendous grassroots support will result in leniency or intervention by the President, but Lynch’s case has galvanized the community and put a very human face on the medical cannabis issue.