Medical marijuana provider Charles Lynch sentenced to 366 days in prison

(LA Times) The owner of a Morro Bay pot dispensary who emerged as a key figure in the national debate over medical marijuana was sentenced to one year and one day in prison today by a federal judge in Los Angeles.
Charles Lynch, 47, dressed in a dark suit, sat with his hands clasped and stared straight ahead as the sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu. Lynch declined the opportunity to address the court moments earlier. His mother, seated in the courtroom gallery nearby, fought back tears as Wu said he saw no way around imposing a sentence of at least one year.
Lynch’s case made headlines nationwide and came to symbolize the tension between conflicting state and federal marijuana laws. Cultivating, using and selling doctor-recommended marijuana is allowed under some circumstances in California and about a dozen other states, but such activities are banned entirely under federal law.
Lynch was prosecuted for illegally distributing marijuana from his Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers facility, despite having the blessing of Morro Bay’s mayor, city attorney and other civic leaders.

The Obama Administration had signaled that it will not seek prosecutions and raids against medical marijuana dispensary owners who are acting in accordance with state laws.  Charles Lynch couldn’t have followed state laws more scrupulously, but that is a moot point in the federal courthouse, where defendants cannot even mention the medical nature of their legal state-approved business.
This case highlights the need to pass Rep. Barney Franks’ Medical Marijuana Protection Act of 2009, to be introduced later today.  The bill would protect providers and patients in the thirteen medical marijuana states from harassment and prosecution by federal authorities (more on that bill later today).
In the meantime, we can appeal to the man who can bring us some Change We Can Believe In, President Obama, who in the stroke of a pen can commute Charles Lynch’s sentence just as easily as former President Bush commuted former VP Chief of Staff Scooter Libby‘s sentence in the CIA agent-outing Valerie Plame case.  Mr. Lynch would remain convicted and retain a criminal record, but he would be spared of any prison time.  Or President Obama could do the truly honorable thing and pardon Mr. Lynch just as easily as former President Ford pardoned former President Nixon, absolving him of any conviction or prison time.
The Change we’d like to see is our Federal Government respecting the will of the people in thirteen states regarding medical use of marijuana and our President living up to his campaign promises to focus his Justice Department resources on more urgent matters.

Call President Obama at 202-456-1111.
Tell him to commute the sentence of
Charles Lynch or pardon him outright!

0 thoughts

  1. Such a tragedy. He was ok under city and state laws. He shouldnt be prosecuted because our government cant get there shit straight. We should all start protesting the hell outta this. Picket outside where he does time.

  2. Like I said, when will you truly be free? When we stand up and demand a change, will we see a change. This man did all that was asked of him in order to run his business in accordance with STATE requirements. Federal laws are not applicable when A STATE has authority and the feds don’t….. This is why we need to get mad and make our demands heard and felt. Lets hurt them where it hurt’s the most, in the wallet. PEACE

  3. WOW thanks President Obama, this sounds like change I can believe in. What the hell happened to his promise to stop federal raids on MMJ dispensaries, and stopping the prosecutions of MMJ patients and their caregivers?

  4. Mr. President, I thought you cared about all Americans. It seems to me that you are more concerned about Terrorist prisoners getting out of Guantanamo.Putting Charlie Lynch in jail is a tragic Injustice. I think you should work just as hard trying to free American citizens.

  5. Judge Wu is an embarrassment.
    He doesn’t believe 1 year of Mr. Lynch’s life, 2 years on probation and the rest of his life as a convicted felon is worth his judge job. Don’t fool yourself, people. It’s not like he would never be able to find another job or is financially in shackles… like the man he sentenced, both literally and figuratively, Charlie Lynch.
    I hope that somehow, if God does impose real justice, people like Judge Wu will be punished severely for their roles in continuing these witch hunts and hiding behind the circular logic of ‘The law is the law’, ‘I don’t make the laws, I only enforce them’ or the Nuremberg excuse, ‘I’m just following orders.’

  6. I urge you all to call the White House and demand a pardon for Charles Lynch.
    Lynch is a prisoner of war. There is no denying this.
    Wu deserves only scorn for his “leniency”.

  7. I really feel betrayed by Obama now. And as for our federal government… they terrify me. “Not allowed” to mention things in court? I mean, come on. You have a right to defend yourself! It doesn’t even matter what your defense is, you have a right to use every word you can speak!

  8. Send a polite letter to the president requesting a pardon. If memory serves me correctly 366 days makes Charlie eligible for good time. If he were sentenced to 365 days or one year he would have to do one year period. That extra day may take a month off the actual time in prison. This judge even went against mandatory guidelines. That speaks volumes to me. He (the judge) also mentioned state medical marijuana laws a few weeks back. Charlie is a true martyr and this judge knows it.

  9. I’m gonna take a guess that President Obama doesn’t have the time to read comments in the NORML site. It would be good if you wrote or called and have some respectful and smart words to get your point across.
    Google some facts and piece together a good argument then share it with those in power. I really want to see it become relegalized in my time and I am aware that smart witty well thought out statements can be heard, but just saying this is not change I can believe in really will not be the winning strategy.
    I pray to see this in MY day :o) a return to common sense.

  10. To Jimbo #7 comment
    He is trying to repair our fractured image in the world. Gitmo is a problem for the US and has damaged our image. I’m glad he is working on foreign policy.

  11. Mr.President, Congratulations. Great to have you as CHIEF IN COMMANDER. Please correct the MEDICAL MARIJUANA law and allow it in all 50 states. NO raids and jail time for medical caregivers or patients.Life is to short for good people to be in jail and it is not a good idea for the Government controlling medical decisions and not giving citizens an opportunity to grow their own medicine.The economy is tough and we need all the help we can get and Going to the doctor is not affordable for most american familes. Respectfully, Chris Lester

  12. Let us not forget all the rest of the people in jail or under the hand of law enforcement for simple possession of cannabis. They deserve to be free at least as much as anyone running a business selling “medical marijuana”. Not everyone can qualify for a subscription for their daily buzz.
    If Barney Frank can muster the resources to make it safe to sell (“distribute”) cannabis “medically”, then that would be time better spent trying to decriminalize all of it once and for all. Where are the efforts there?

  13. Piss on Judge Wu and his family. Obama, go to hell with your false promises of change. Jesus? Where are you brother? We could really use you right about now.

  14. damn, i thought i would never miss bush. at least he let everyone know he’s an asshole. obama pretends to be nice in public, then slits our throats.
    that’s far from the change i was looking for.
    he’s too power hungry. time to kick his ass all the way out of office. he put democracy on hold.
    we’ve been polite for a long time. give me marijuana or give me death…. asshole. i really don’t give a sh*t. i’d give my life to protect seriously ill patience. i’m ready to get aggressive.

  15. 366 dayz of WASTED Taxpayers Money
    We are suppose to help the government
    keep tis guy iN JaiL?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  16. It’s hard to believe being in this business that people that are out there providing medication will go to jail for doing what the doctor ordered.
    Jimmy B
    Everything420.com

  17. This is the same old story. The Puppet Masters are still in control in Washington DC and Let this be an object lesson for all Workers at Medical Marijuana Outlets. When the Federal Government Decides what it will allow on Medical Marijuana it will set a Major President in Law and it will affect how the DEA does business. Scheduling it to a different category will be the Medical Patients Salvation… Our Leaders are stalling for time…
    People like Mr. Lynch are Sacrifices, Burning on the Pyre of “Because I Say So’, Hopefully Mr. Obama will have the guts to Pardon Mr. Lynch. Other than that I will no way join a collective as long as the song remains the same. Keep up the good fight!!!

  18. What if this Federal Govt went against every state law that is different than the Federal version?
    Does the Federal Govt grant states the right to kill people? Are executions allowed under Federal law?
    Does the Federal Govt allow states that approved casinos to operate? Why does the Federal Govt go after internet gambling and not Las Vegas gambling?

  19. What does the Judge believe Lynch will gain from this sentence?? I suppose he’ll have plenty of time to think about how bad of a person he is for helping the terminally ill. That’ll show him.

  20. The Feds are a dichotomy of truth and lies, the absolute pinnacle of hypocrisy.The machinery in place is to keep justifying and legitimize the absurdity of their existence and sins at the expense of the innocent and the weak.After all is said and done the system will continue wreak havoc and destroy lives and we the taxpayers are paying huge money for all this debauchery forever but Mr. Lynch and others will be made to pay the ultimate price freedom.
    And you thought Orwell was fiction !

  21. The 2 party system is a scam. No matter what you vote for, republican or democrat, you are still going to have the same people running the government. If you want true marijuana reform, we need to get out of this 2 party system and get a 3rd party involved.
    If you want true marijuana reform, you have to fire EVERYONE in office.
    Ron Paul for 2012

  22. this is an atrocity.
    DEA GO AWAY. our big government’s overreach is bankrupting us at the same time robbing humans of freedoms to choose.
    i should not be made a criminial for merely choosing to consume the flowers of a plant that i grow in my closet. fortunately i’m not because i live in san francisco 😉

  23. Would someone please explain to me what justice will be served and why our nation will be a safer, better place, by putting a man like Charles Lynch in prison for helping sick people? Government at all levels has clearly lost its mind, and its way. All our government employees should read and heed the Constitution of the United States, and stop trying to run other people’s lives when it is obviously none of their business. All laws must be eliminated or changed as needed to be in compliance with God’s will for us all to live in freedom and liberty, as acknowledged in the Constitution. Government’s legitimate role is to facilitate freedom through maximizing individual options, as long as there is no violation of the legitimate liberty and freedom of others. Cannabis should be re-legalized immediately. If you don’t like it, then don’t use it. I have no quarrel with you about anything you choose to do or not do, as long as it does not violate my rights, threaten my person or property. This is what freedom is, what America is supposed to be. We need more respect and tolerance, and less “I know what’s better for you than you do,” Big Brother mentality. I wrote the President, for what its worth, stating my conviction that he should do the right thing, and demonstrate the courage required to pardon Mr. Lynch. How long will freedom loving American patriots allow hypocritical cowards to run our lives? FREEDOM, LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!!!

  24. “If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or
    federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the
    evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of
    violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow
    Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty
    — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No
    longer can we collaborate with a government that uses
    nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most
    damaged and most desperate citizens. Yet this war grinds on,
    flooding our prisons, devouring resources, turning city
    neighborhoods into free-fire zones. To what end? State and
    federal prisons are packed with victims of the drug conflict. A
    new report by the Pew Center shows that 1 of every 100 adults
    in the U.S. — and 1 in 15 black men over 18 — is currently
    incarcerated. That’s the world’s highest rate of
    imprisonment.” Time.com 12/21/08 ED BURNS, DENNIS LEHANE,
    GEORGE PELECANOS, RICHARD PRICE & DAVID SIMON

  25. Jimbo- The answer is simple, because they cant make money off of it. The federal gov. is motivated by power, money, and greed. We may as well be ran by the greedy corporate bosses from Enron, I don’t see a difference.

  26. i 2nd what Joey says!!
    The 2 party system is a scam. No matter what you vote for, republican or democrat, you are still going to have the same people running the government. If you want true marijuana reform, we need to get out of this 2 party system and get a 3rd party involved.
    If you want true marijuana reform, you have to fire EVERYONE in office.
    Ron Paul for 2012

  27. i just got done leaving my rant on the lynch case on the 202-456-1111 obama hotline. took about 10 times to get past the busy signal then was on hold a good 15 minutes, hopefully it was other concerned cannabis citizens calling to convince senor ‘change’ that we are high time for some right about NOW!

  28. I have a medical condition that causes pain, swelling and limited mobility in both of my legs. Cannabis is the only treatment that eliminates the pain I feel and allows me to live as normal as a life as possible. I currently live in Illinois where no medical cannabis law is in effect. Until then me and thousands of people must choose to either live in pain or risk arrest and prison in order to provide ourselves and others with safe and quality medicine. Everyone who reads this please do whatever you can to contact local, state, and federal officials. Each voice helps.
    Peace, love, and safe journies to all

  29. This really highlights the need to reinstate and support the 10th amendment as a WORKING right. The rights of the states to pass their own laws regarding drugs and other matters really needs to be revisited.
    The interstate commerce clause has decimated this amendment and, hopefully, talk of states succeeding in order to protect it will gain some steam.

  30. Question:
    Was U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu required by law to issue a sentence? Could he had reduced the sentence, or given Charles Lynch probation?
    I hope Mr. Lynch is pardoned, or somehow not required to go to jail. What a waste!

  31. The saddest part about this whole thing is that the Federal Gov. Was taking Federal taxes from this man.. So in a way he paid the salary of the judge that put him in jail…It is my understanding that a judge can and will do whatever he decides is best…So why he could not have done something differant than 366 days in jail is just a show of power in my mind…Mr.Lynch our day is comming and my thoughts are with you.. I hope that you are released long before your time is served!!!!

  32. I feel? Charles Lynch, just yesterday i was literally stepped on and severely discriminated for only have one blunt of .8 grams, now i am facing tickets i have to pay and was almost sent to jail. I’ve been smoking illegally for past 3 years none stop everyday and nothing has ever happened to me. I don’t think any other form of medical THC will ever stop the demand for legalization, which in my eyes should be the main issue we need to deal with.If we don’t legalize, your only making it more difficult for? yourselves (government) to deal with marijuana issues. Suit yourselves spending more money and time on things people know aren’t harmful. and at the end of it all this country is becoming more and more liberal as time goes by. This plant will one day be regulated and taxed. The thing is why wait.. people like myself are not going to stop smoking it. Waiting is only building more “SO CALLED problems” for the government to deal with.

  33. THIS COUNTRY HAS HAD IT, NO LEADERSHIP, GREED, IGNORANCE, NO REGARD FOR THE PEOPLE AND THEIR RIGHTS, NO EMPATHY FOR THE SICK AND SUFFERING. IMMAGRANTS CAME HERE FROM ALL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO START A NEW LIFE. WELL THAT NEW LIFE HAS DIED AND ITS TIME TOME SET SALI BACK TO EUROPE WHERE COUNTRIES RULE WITH INTELLEGENCE AND COMMON SENCE.

  34. It’s a shame that our ellected representives can’t see past their inflated egoes. How can they believe that they repersent us when the american people spoke for reform of marijuana laws when asked, by Mr. Obama, what is the most important issue to adress durrihg his administration? that anser was, by more than 80%, legalize marijuana!!! I thought we ellect them to represent our views.

  35. The Federal government is a very dangerous, out of control monstrosity that feeds on the very people it is suppose to protect. The laws that it enforces are laws that were bought and paid for by the drug companies, insurance companies, private prisons, ect… Law enforcement are corporate storm troopers.

  36. It is the alcohol cartel that has funded and aided the spread of disinformation and lies regarding cannibis. The alcohol lobby in washington is large and well funded and very sly. Cannibis is safer and will not kill our children as alcohol does. It is time to give new meaning to the phrase “This bud’s for you”!!!

  37. rember when obama was a man now he has turend his back on the very poeple who need the true help only he can give

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