No Oscars for Medical Marijuana Providers

by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors
The morning after the Academy Awards a band of protestors gathered in Los Angeles on the corner of Main Street and Temple St outside the federal courthouse. They were not there for the Oscars. But one day someone will make a movie about the person they were there for. It may be called ‘Inherit the Wind: the Sequel.’
The protestors were marijuana patients and medical use advocates gathering in behalf of one Charles C. Lynch (photo below of Lynch’s medical cannabis dispensary opening), who was convicted in a United States court last summer of operating a medical marijuana dispensary in violation of federal laws. The organizers have no red carpet. They just wanted to draw public attention to Lynch’s case hoping that the 46-year old man does not spend decades in prison for giving medicine to sick people.

California is one of thirteen states in which medical marijuana is legal, but federal law prohibits its use under any circumstances. That means that though Mr. Lynch obeyed local and state laws, he nevertheless became a federal prisoner. That means he is a victim of American injustice at its worst.
Mr. Lynch was convicted at trial, denied under the Federal Rules of Evidence from presenting any testimony whatsoever about medical marijuana, his own city business license, or the California state law he dutifully and righteously obeyed. A jury thus only heard that some man was selling marijuana to line his pockets, and they convicted him, as a San Francisco jury once convicted Ed Rosenthal.
We had another trial like that in America. It was called the Scopes trial, and as I recall, a schoolteacher was prosecuted for teaching science in his class and then denied the right to present testimony regarding evolution at his trial.
On February 4, a White House Spokesman named Nick Shapiro said that President Obama did not want to waste federal law enforcement resources circumventing state medical marijuana laws. Mr. Shapiro opined that he expected the President’s new appointees to consider this when setting policy for their agencies. How about having one of them show up at the sentencing for Mr. Lynch? How about directing the US Attorney to stand down? I am available if they want to send me.
Somewhere in Hollywood, a producer, watching news footage of this honorable protest, will sit in his studio, and remark, ‘This will make a good film.’ Years down the road, a younger version of Sean Penn will accept an Oscar for having portrayed a role about a middle aged man who started a legitimate business dispensing marijuana to sick people. It will show him struggling to open the collective, reaching out to his consumers, helping out his neighbors, and raising his family. Then the scene will switch to federal SWAT agents smashing down his door, arresting him and locking him up. A US Attorney will then put him in jail for violating federal laws. Freed years later, his community will see him as a hero and martyr, not a villain or thief.
While gay people were being beaten mindlessly in alleys for decades, someone may have said the same of Harvey Milk’s inspirational calling in San Francisco for gay rights. But he was not alive for the motion picture. He was gunned down. For Mr. Lynch and his family, there is no time for a movie tomorrow. This is real life. He is being gunned down today.
Unless our President does something, he is going to jail for years. And no academy award will ever remedy that terrible injustice.
Norm Kent is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale and a member of the NORML Board of Directors, who publishes The Broward Law Blog
Here are some related links, courtesy of Americans for Safe Access:

-White House Statement on Medical Cannabis: safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=5665
-Drew Carey/Reason TV documentary short on Lynch: reason.tv/video/show/413.html
-Recent Los Angeles Times story on the trial: latimes.com/news/local/la-me-weed26-2008jul26,0,6418930.story
-Friends of Charles C. Lynch website: friendsofccl.com

0 thoughts

  1. This is one of the many many reasons we need to legalize cannabis, and CA is getting the ball rolling.The rest of the country will follow. GO CA GO

  2. What is Obama and his staff waiting on? So far our president has served us well with lip service. When it comes to speakers, he’s gotta be one of the best speakers I’ve heard…Unfortunetly he’s a politician first and foremost!!! Change??? Please!!!

  3. What is wrong with our country? I hope this blows up in the media. I can’t believe he isn’t allowed to testify. Thanks for this article…I guess…definatly gooing to ruin the rest of my day.

  4. A great injustice is being dealt to Mr. Lynch. Many more people should be angry and LOUD about it. This is the biggest BS ever!!

  5. Sometimes it makes me sick to be an American, to be a citizen of a country that does this type of injustice to our own is one of those times!!!!
    Lynch should have been a hero not just another easy bust for the DEA!!
    Then there is the other pain and suffering to the patients who were deprived their prescribed medicine.
    Our law enforcement wears the uniform of hate, and they hate everyone who does not wear their uniform!!!

  6. Presidential pardons anyone? Let’s see Obama keep his word and put an end to these injustices that are taking place on his watch.

  7. This man should do no jail time the feds should drop all charges. he was doing the right thing under california state law he should be left alone to do his business.

  8. Fuck all of these old time nut jobs, they are getting old and need to die off. Things are changing whether they like it not, fuckin’ assholes.

  9. cannabis smoking is a form of relaxation, safer than tobacco smoking and way better than consuming alcohol. regulations must be as follows: not to smoke while driving, not allowed to smoke in the public, and consumers must be 21 yrs old and up.

  10. I wish there was something that I could do to help him get out of this mess… If only we could tell the Attorney General what we think…
    I wish Mr. Lynch the best, and that he remains free!

  11. The hypocrisy of the FEDERAL GOVT. again and again. It is a viciuos circle from one extreme to the next. We have about a quarter of the states that have changed their marijuana laws for the better for the poeple and voted in by the people and there is BIG BROTHER enforceable mentality of over laws voted in by the people. When a dispensary opens up they go through the red tape to be with in the law and pay taxes and have a system to go by, here comes BIG BROTHER to superimpose their mentality and demontize the way they want to run things their way. Lets see if Obama calls off the demons with the new drug czar it will be for the better for the people.

  12. The federal government should just give up the witch hunt on marijuana because it is far too ubiquitous. The elites can not afford to have the authorities arrest people for all cannabis crimes. You can’t go all out and inspect everywhere with drug sniffing dogs or weekly drug tests on everybody. It costs too much. Even if you could, you would have to build so many prisons for all the people that the number of people not in prison could not afford or would not want to pay that much in taxes to pay for such massive incarceration costs. It’s nuts!
    This is a problem for the American neo-Nazis that simply isn’t going away. Listen, you neoconservatives first committed crimes against humanity in your own country by using marijuana to incriminate undesirables, which when you pick and choose who to toss into jail for pot it turns out to be people of color, and high-profile individuals they want to make an example of. When you had full control, you brought back torture and ignored the Geneva Convention. You essentially killed Peter McWilliams and many others! How many more?! I say NONE! Stop it now! We have not forgotten! You seed hate and then sell weapons. You ignore peak oil instead of having the vision, will and fortitude to retool your own car plants and now the taxpayers must pay for the refitting of your plants for fuel-efficient, greener vehicles. Hemp does have use in the car & transportation sectors. I could go on. You prohibitionists just make me sick.
    It’s an outrage. I wish this administration would grow a pair! Oh, wait for when the time is right? Prohibitionists should just give it up. Give it up! Legalize! You can’t still want to spend money on such a failure?! Complete amnesty and expunging, no firing for lying on your employment applications, off job use, keep job/practice/license, regulate, tax, you know the whole nine yards.
    You first need to stop the raids, my little D.C. darlings. Get the medical in D.C., undoing that Barr fecal matter and Santorum. Stop the extradition of Marc Emery et al. And most of all, get the order of doing these things right! Next, cut the damn federal and state budgets to make marijuana the absolute lowest priority, akin to jaywalking or shopping on Sunday. DUI, minors, in public, etc. would still be delicts. They’re not worried about gambling addiction, but all of a sudden with pot they’re worried about more people using and using more. Hypocrites, all of them! When you get to that last step, you ought to be at the point where you might as well throw your hands up in the air, and exclaim: What the hell, why not just legalize it! You might as well make some money off it with taxes and jobs!
    Mary Jane, I love you!

  13. This is the biggest misuse of federal power I have heard of so far. This man should be freed and paid back for every penny he spent plus restitution for pain and suffering. How did we go from a free country to this Nazi strategies our government use against us now?
    Cherokee Fred Hussein Jesus

  14. My experience at my first NORML meeting in Philadelphia was disappointing to say the least. 3 of the 10 attendees were typical stoner types that no legislator would ever pay any attention to. I sent 3 emails to the leader of the group and got NO REPLIES. One of the attendees was facing 10 years in jail. http://www.sprengcase.com.
    I have issues with both sides. The cops surely set him up. Spreng clearly had a grow op going and after 12 years of lousy connections in Philly, frankly, I’m pissed that I didn’t know about it!!!!!

  15. isn’t there any type of petition we can begin? does this not violate his right to a fair trial? how is it fair if he wasn’t able to testify or provide any information regarding the circumstances.

  16. As I was watching Obama’s address last night, the phrase hung in my ears about ‘eliminating wasteful and ineffective and costly government spending” and what is more wasteful ineffective and costly than marijuana interdiction? I think Obama should be called on this point, is a good hook for legalizing and regulating marijuana.

  17. At some point you have to ask yourself, ” are we here for the government, or is the government here for us ?”.We’ve come a long way baby.

  18. marijuana legalization is again in the public eye but what will Norml do to help end prohibition? Every few years the legalization movement gets attention then goes away. Every single person who reads this needs to write their congressman and stop this frustrating war on marijuana!!

  19. CBR….just to let you know…..not all old and/or older people are against legalization of cannabis so please don’t insult the “older” people who are for legalizing….you need all the help you can get

  20. I had “hope” for about a week. Unfortunately I see the same government, not really change, that was promised.
    Although previously, the then Mr. Obama said he would not waste taxpayer dollars on… (this subject.) Today, I presume for the people questioning the White House, the White House is now referring people who question this issue to another statement he made afterwards.
    Somewhere other than Oregon and California, where he was campaigning at that particular time, he made the statement that he was “NOT in favor of legalizing marijuana.”
    He won. (Unless, of course, California passes the issue proposed for revenue, he still won.)

  21. Jump over the hump. Medical marijuana is a roadblock for the ultimate goal!!!!
    LEGALISE CANNABIS TODAY AND CIRCUMVENT A SERIOUS, LONGTERM ROAD BLOCK TO YOUR OWN PERSONAL, LONGTERM HEALTH.
    THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS BIG PHARMA HAS A VESTED INTEREST IN THE DECLINE OF YOUR OVERALL HEALTH. THE DECLINE IN YOUR HEALTH IS BIG MONEY FOR BIG PHARMA. ASK ME WHY IF YOU CARE. DON’T ASK IF YOU PREFER TO DIE AND PREFER TO TAKE OTHERS WITH YOU.

  22. Mark,
    Madison NORML is equally weak. Ugh. Their website is in pretty piss poor shape, like something out of the early 90’s. Most of the links don’t work and I too get next to no response from anyone there. It’s so lame.
    I wanna help but I feel so helpless.

  23. I agree with Mark. The primary reason marijuana is illegal and will most likely continue to be so IS BECAUSE THE LAW TRANSFORMS A COMMON WEED INTO A MONEY TREE. Come on, $150.00 for a sandwich bag half full of leaves. Yeah their gonna let that be repealed. The Kingpins make money growing and selling (wholesale). They then use this money to groom two canidates for each public office one Democrat and one Republican, then you get to choose. The sandwich bag co. enjoys a defacto packiging contract on a multi-billion $$$ industry. The established drug co’s make money by making you pay for their way overpriced prescriptions instead of growing your medicine in your backyard for almost free. The drug testing industry makes money, saying american’s are a freedom loving people is a sad joke. The cops make money by outright theft, in other days highway patrolmen were simply known as highwaymen, or more accuratly BANDITS. By the way if you EVER will be allowed to grow pot in your backyard it will only be so until some Idiot shoots a couple of minors trying to steal it.
    Back to Mark, your right. The secondary reason marijuana is illegle is because the legalizers seem to have ASOLUTELY NO POLITICAL SAVVY WHATESOEVER. The last time I witnessed public debate on this topic the prohibitionist dressed like a lawyer(well groomed suit and tie) the Norml rep looked like a hobo. (Denim jacket, long hair, torn jeans, needed a shave, I had to remind myself many times that I was on his side.) Or how about the people who want a million stoner march on Washington, of course the media will broadcast the weirdest participants and later the footage will be used in a ONDPC ad. I read on this site again and again the same things I’ve heard again and again for the last 30 years. All the old arguments that are 100% accurate and 100% irrelevant. Or even worse all the barganing.
    Don’t drive stoned, Sorry I can’t smoke a joint and then wait a month for my bloodstream to clean out before driving. The effects of marijuana are just not the same as alcohol, not in moderate amounts and not in overindulgence.
    We want to keep it away from teenagers, Come on how old were you when you first got high. Again the proper argument is marijuana is a million times safer and more healthy for teenagers or anyone else, than alcohol and a trillion times less stupid than sniffing glue. Kids are going to get high on something. Ever notice that as far a getting a goverment job is concerned past marijuana use is excusable only if you were a teenager when you made that horrible mistake.
    The only way for meaning ful change is for all you smokers out there to STOP VOTING FOR POLITICIANS WHO PROMISE TO PUT YOU IN JAIL. I’VE DONE IT AND SO HAVE MOST OF YOU. Yes it’s your duty to vote. I’ve voted in every election since 1980, BUT I’VE NOT VOTED FOR EITHER THE DEMOCRAT OR THE REPUBLICAN FOR SENATE OR FOR HOUSE

  24. Every comment is vented anger here from all over the United States. We’ve lost one very good man here for one reason only, there’s simply not enough citizens contacting their government leaders in my opinion. NORML makes it very easy for everyone to contact their government leaders at their web site. Allow me to suggest going the extra mile, use the emotional pain here to your advantage. Promise yourself to encourage one person per week to contact their government legislators. That’s the best way I know to make a difference TODAY for all advacates of medicinal marijuana. Got a better idea short of war, post it now!

  25. I could go on and on about our fucked up gay ass Gov,BUT I GET TO WORKED UP OVER IT, fucking veins start coming out of my neck and shit ..LOL. I would be ashamed of myself if i was the gov. YOU CAN NOT GET RID OF CANNABIS IF YOU TRIED,GOD PUT IT ON HIS PLANET FOR A FUCKING REASON, DUH !!!!!!!!!!
    OH P.S. TO THE GOV. I WILL SMOKE CANNABIS ANY TIME I FUCKING WANT TO SO FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  26. I find it extremely disheartening to know that Mr. Lynch—some one who(under CA state LAW), gave his patients/customers something they asked for, something that would help with their aches/pains and, or relaxation will be refused testimony & possibly imprisoned for observing state laws.
    THEN, OF COURSE—-there’s Madoff—-this guy ripped off several financial institutions for millions, even BILLIONS!!(which; if I’m not mistaken, helped snowball our global economy further down the crapper)! Last I checked; that’s something that isn’t legal on a STATE or FEDERAL level….but, ya know. He’s still sittin’ pretty in his mansion with an ankle bracelet to serve as his primary discomfort–WTF???
    Does anybody else ever notice this sh!t……

  27. Until everyone stands up and says I support Marijuana Law Reform or I support legalization,nothing will change. Otherwise,bitching about it on blogs or just complaining and moaning about it will be the equivalent to pissing in the wind. Write your state rep,your congressman,and whoever else you can write to that it would matter,but, it must me done be everyone who supports and not just the few who have a pair and do something about it.Its the voice of the masses that gets the attention!!!Need proof of that…..read a history book and you will all see that it was that masses that made the most significant changes….peace to all!

  28. Let’s waste some more of the taxpayers money. This is a case of the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Make laws, sell licenses, open businesses, and hey, lets send a list to the feds so we can have them shut down. Don’t these same things happen in Mexico, Jamaica, and other countries. Look at one of the funniest character actors of our time. Jimmy Chong went to Federal Prison for selling hand blown water pipes. He had a legitimate business, and the Feds’ decided to go after him because he portrayed a marijuana user in films. Let’s put McCartheism in the past where it belongs, along with slavery and womens rights. This is a great country with some very old fashioned laws on our books…

  29. Why doesn’t the Gov do this or why do they do that you ask? I ask just who are these people who run our nation. The one’s who decide what laws will be enforced, what laws they will tell the President he can or can’t change if he wants to be re-elected ? Who are these people? There was a book printed back 30 years ago called THE TRIAD who exposed the 3 richest families in the U.S. and the world who really run our nation under the disquise of a democracy..The book was quickly removed from the book store selves and were destroyed along with the printing of it being stopped. IF anyone has that book or knowledge of whom the book exposed these family to be, let us know. At least we’ll know who our king really is.

  30. Ok NORML newsflash you censor people and you’re no better. Say what you will about my opinions, but no one has every gotten anywhere playing the victim. There is so much injustice in this world to play the Martyr card so quickly on this is the actions of cowards and believe me when they pass the bill for cultivation and use licenses that I proposed to you over a month ago and you ignored. I’ll be sure to let all of your supporters know just how hard you’re fighting for our rights. You should be ashamed.

  31. The Government know why it’s a legal and they want to keep it that way off of Racism,Fear,Protection of Corporate Profits, Yellow Journalism,Ignorant,Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators, Personal Career Advancement and Greed. http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/stories/2003/12/22/whyIsMarijuanaIllegal.html
    Legalizing marijuana would be great, to all the ones don’t agree DON’T DO IT is a choice their not saying once they legalize it everyone has to do it. Studies and proof among people who do smoke marijuana has no effects like alcohol and tobacco. If the government was so worry about the American People they wouldn’t even had alcohol and tobacco out in the first place it just to show you they are hiding the truth from us. With these cheesy bogus commercial about making you lazy, your a loser, and wont be successful in life are all lies. Many Presidents, Athletes, Entertainers, and successful people have done it or doing it still an haven’t fail it what there doing. Quit with the lies and all this stalling about “Are they going to legalize marijuana” an just do it all already. Have rules if anyone is caught more then there supposed to have fine them. If some people will like to grow in it in their own home make them pay for a permit permission to have two small planter pot, permits expires every 6 months make them pay every time if they don’t comply fine them next strike take away their permit. No smoking in public if so fine them, anyone trafficking product take them away and fine them. If no one pays there fine threat them like regular people with tickets pay for put them or in jail. With these fine the states can collected more money and the police have more time to look for harder crimes and still control the issue if someone is not following the law. STOP all this nonsense putting people to jail for a plant that doesn’t hurt, kill,effect, or get additive too.
    Cannabis does not give you cancer like tobacco. Cannabis is not addictive like any other harder drug like cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or prescription pills that your doctor might had scribe to his/her patients. Cannabis is the most safest drug that is out there with no harsh side effects. Tobacco is nothing like cannabis there’s no way you can compare it cause it wouldn’t even get to that level. If people can teach their child from right from wrong then why worry about the choices they make. If they know how to follow the rules from there parents have gave them then everything should be fine. But, it wont cause their going to make their own choices in life cause that’s their life if they do smoke cannabis the parent wouldn’t have to worry about their getting cancer or to going to rehab for being addictive. Parents teach their children to stay in school an go to college. If the child deiced not to go are you going to blame to government your child didn’t go to college cause she/he had chosen not too. Life is about choices I don’t smoke cigarettes cause its a proven fact to link to cancer. I don’t drink alcohol proven fact again to link to liver disease. I had smoke cannabis all during my high school years never drop out have a diploma, working on my Bachelor Degree in Business. My parents had taught me right from wrong an when it was time for me to live my life I had choose to not do them things. The government is going to tell you stuff just to feed you make you full until you vomit. GET IT ! GOT IT! GOOD!!!!

  32. POTheadz outta start relying on each other when they can for business and such. Kinda like black folks supported ONLY black business’ when ever able; during the civil rights movement( 1960’s I think?). I say to all STONERZ/POTheads/& MEDICAL users(especially): Band together–drop the petty/selfish attitudes; and shop where your weed toking friends work first(and as frequent) as possible for your consumer needs. IF ya’ll really are POTheads….prove it by supporting other potHEADs every chance WE get!! We must make them listen….”by any pot-smoking means necessary!!”

  33. What it comes down to is, Obama has 3 yrs and 10 months to get this done and legal or we vote for someone else to replace him… plain and simple… Marijuana is out of the bag, so to speak.

  34. Arnold should put Obama in a head lock if the president doesn’t step up, be a man, and follow through with his promises…. Talk, talk, talk…. So far no CHANGE

  35. I can’t emphasize this enough – the economic argument for cannabis law reform is now key, so if you want to show your support for the California bill (AB 390), send some cash to Arnie:
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Office of the Governor
    State Capitol
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Pass it on and post this everywhere!

  36. I am in support of cannabis as anybody, but some of you guys make me sick talking about obama not doing anything about it. He vows to stop federal ( he has said since being president). He has been in office about a month.. Give him time, I could see if he was in his 4th yr and hasn’t did anybody about it, but he has been in office 1 damn month, chill out. This has been going on for almost 80 yrs, so chill smoke your shyt on the low, and wait a lil while to see whats up. Some people expect him to walk on water, and part lake michigan in 3days.

  37. While I really do find this atrocious, I think it’s ridiculous to make parallels between Harvey Milk and Mr. Lynch. While Milk was a strong politician who faced immense bigotry and fought hard for gay rights, Mr. Lynch, while he is a political prisoner to some extent, is little more than a capitalist

  38. While I would like to see Obama reform the U.S.’s extremely ridiculous marijuana policy, he has some important shit on his hands people…a little something called the financial crisis.

  39. This probably isnt the right place to post this.. but I’m ALL Excited.. NORML posted a Video I created on Youtube.. and I would like ya’all to view it and comment on it if possible.. It was created because I wanted to RANT about some things that were on my mind.. But lets get the word out..!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_lOs2Pe1gs

  40. *** BUZZ KILLINGTON *** I agree that everyone should just hang low and see what happens.. yeah Obama has A LOT on his shoulders.. But look at http://www.change.org he/Obama aksed for the top 10 questions.. they were given to him.. and all were thought over and given a GOOD and thoughtful answer.. EXCEPT the number one question.. a VERY small 1 sentance answer was given.. I’m sure that 99.9% of everyone here knows he has ALOT on his shoulders.. but it would have been EASY to give us more than a VERY small ONE SENTENCE answer to the number one question.. voted number one by ALOT of American citizens.. Just remember this was the NUMBER ONE qestion.. and it feels like we were swept under the rug.. I understand and I’m sure alot of others do also!! that Obama has A LOT to do .. but him or his staff could have given us a better explaination than what was given to us

  41. and like everybody knows .we should have legalized 20 some odd years ago, had it been, there would be not such a hard drug problem, but then , this one time great country;learns things the hard way. long live reggae

  42. Another thing.. I have heard MANY times that Cannibbis is called a drug.. I personally dont think it is a persay DRUG.. cocaine and heroin and other drugs have to be man-made… Cannibis Doesnt.. just plant the seed and it grows. God made this medicine/feel GOOD herb for us to use.
    And maybe the current administration sees it that way

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