Posted by Don Duncan
On March 23, convicted Morro Bay collective operator Charles C. Lynch will be sentenced in federal court for obeying California law. If you follow medical cannabis politics in California, Charles’ story is already familiar. He opened Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC) in Morro Bay in 2006, with the blessing of the City Council and support of the community. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges objected to his facility, however, and called in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to bust Charles in 2007. He was convicted in 2008, after the judge disallowed any testimony about medical cannabis or state law. Now, he faces up to 100 years in federal prison – despite the fact that all of his conduct was legal under state law!
This story has become all too common for medical cannabis patients and providers in California. Charles is one of approximately one hundred people waiting for trial, sentencing, or serving time for medical cannabis “crimes.” But last night, the entire nation heard a report of what is about to happen to Charles C. Lynch, when ABC aired a segment on their popular news magazine, 20/20. John Stossel explained to viewers that Charles C. Lynch is a victim caught in the crossfire of a conflict between state and federal law – something most Americans have never considered.
Charles’ story illustrates that, until federal law is harmonized with the laws of the thirteen states that have already legalized medical cannabis, doing things by the book can land you in jail. That is an important message to send to Congress, since there are early signs of a developing policy in Washington, DC, which points towards tolerating state medical cannabis programs. The new President and Congress should be mindful of Charles and the other victims when codifying that policy. In is unconscionable to leave the victims of the failed policy in jail once the Federal Government comes to its senses on medical cannabis – especially not those who scrupulously obeyed the letter and spirit of the law.
Charles C. Lynch will be sentenced at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Monday, March 23, at 8:30 AM in Courtroom 10. I urge everyone in the Los Angeles area who sympathizes with his position to be there in court to support Charles and his family in the difficult time. I hope you will also keep working with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to be sure no one has to follow in Charles’ footsteps.