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Posts Tagged ‘medical marijuana’

Reason has some exclusive footage from the aborted sentencing yesterday.

Meanwhile, if you are a reader who is not entirely familiar with the timeline and details of the Charlie Lynch case, I strongly recommend this excellent Reason summary.

To read my various posts on the case, click here.

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Passing on the release by the Friends of CCL group. It is rather interesting.

On Thursday April 23 in Federal Court the Sentencing of Charles C. Lynch was again postponed until Monday June 11, 2009. The court filled with supporters from across the state and across the nation. Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Reason.tv and other news agencies watched and waited as Lynch’s defense team continued a courageous battle against his draconian Federal Prosecution. 

First Judge Wu read the recent letter from the Obama Administration saying the prosecution of Charles Lynch is consistent with the New Policy and said ‘that was that’. Wu then asked for plans for the hearing. Lynch’s Public Defenders said they had a number of testimonials and a video tape to submit to the court. The Prosecution said it had no testimonials from victims or any more information to submit to the court. 

Lynch’s attorneys began with a video tape of one of his former patients talking about Lynch’s compassion and Law Abidingness. The Judge stopped the video and told the defense to transcribe the video and submit it to the court. 

Next Lynch’s friend and former patient Owen Beck and his Father Steve Beck both gave testimonials of Lynch’s professionalism, compassion and compliance with State Law. Owen said that what is happening to Lynch is an injustice and asked the Judge for leniency.

 Next the Mayor of Morro Bay, Janice Peters boldly went before the Judge and told him how the City of Morro Bay had enacted a Medical Marijuana plan dating back to 1993, years before the California Compassionate Use Act was enacted. She continued to talk in support of Lynch stating that this is a victimless crime with one exception. The Mayor said that Lynch himself is the victim in this case, a victim of an unfair prosecution and continued to state how Lynch was handling such a terrible situation in such a respectful manner. 

Next the Morro Bay City Attorney Rob Schultz was sworn in, as the prosecutor demanded he be sworn in to testify, talked how he had been directed by the City of Morro Bay City Council to draft a solution that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries.  Shultz talked about how he had researched how other Cities such as Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles had adopted local ordinances regarding dispensaries and used these ordinances as models for the Morro Bay rules and regulations. Shultz zoomed in one rule in particular that the City had provided Lynch and that rule was the age limit of 18 or older unless accompanied by a parent for patients of the dispensary. Shultz testified that this seemed to be the standard among other cities across the state and so that was the rule that was designated for Lynch’s dispensary. Shultz also continued to say that Lynch’s dispensary was in compliance with the Local Laws issued by the City of Morro Bay. The prosecutor grilled Shultz and asked about Federal Law and mentioned Lynch’s dispensary in Atascadero that had been closed due to zoning changes. Shultz said the City of Morro Bay wanted to give Lynch a chance to run a professional law abiding dispensary and felt that Lynch had done so. During Schultz’s testimony Judge Wu was busily taking notes and scratching his head. 

Joe Elford of American’s for Safe Access spoke to the court and mentioned how Lynch was in compliance with the latest California Attorney General’s guidelines one and a half years before the guidelines were even issued. Reuven Cohen pointed out to the court the California Attorney General statements in the guideline that say “no legal conflict exists merely because state law and federal law treat marijuana differently” and that Lynch has been ‘duped’. Judge Wu responded saying ‘well that’s life’ as a very audible moan of disbelief echoed through the court room. Judge Wu continued the proceedings saying that he needs ways around the mandatory minimums and pointed out some language that he thought needed some briefing from defense and prosecutors before sentencing could continue.

As it became obvious that Lynch was not going to be sentenced during the hearing members of the media began heading for the doors in time to meet deadlines for the six o’clock news as prosecutors stared forward in disbelief. Lynch supporters wearing green “Compassion” ribbons stood in unison as the judge began scheduling for the next hearing saying that would be the final hearing in this case. Lynch is now scheduled to be sentenced on June 11, 2009.

As Lynch, his attorneys and supporters exited the building a large number of members of the media waited with microphones and video cameras in front of the Court house. Lynch, his attorneys and Morro Bay City Attorney answered questions for the cameras. Shortly after the press conference Lynch and his supporters gathered at a local pub for food and libations. Lynch said he was happy to walk out of the court house today and wanted to thank his family, his attorneys and his supporters for all they have done for him. 

Charles C. Lynch Sentencing
Monday June 11, 2009 at 10am
Federal Court Building Courtroom #10
312 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

I think it is becoming increasingly clear that Obama’s drug policy will be one of spineless dweebism. In short, he will mostly hem and haw; actual changes will occur only if he considers that it is politically safe for him to do so. Well there you go, Mr. President, there is currently enough sympathy for Lynch from the NY Times and your other friends and supporters. It really will be ok to stop this prosecution. So just do it: if not to redeem your integrity, at least to get some good press!

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In response to questions from the court about how to proceed with the Lynch case given that government policy on this issue seems to have reversed, this is what the US Department of Justice wrote in a letter sent earlier today by Marshall Jarrett, Director.

Not only does the DoJ has no intention of intervening in the Lynch case, it also thinks that the prosecution and conviction of Lynch was entirely consistent with present department policies as well as recent statements made by the attorney general.

As I have noted several times before, one of Obama’s campaign promises was that the DEA will end its medical marijuana raids, a stance that was recently reaffirmed by US attorney general Eric Holder.

So what do you call someone who says one thing and does the opposite?

This is not merely a matter of abstract policy. It is a matter of lives ruined or saved. It is a matter of deciding what happens to real people. Like Charles Lynch who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay that helped relieve the pain of the sick and the dying.

In an earlier post on the topic of DEA raids I said that I would give Obama three months. If there was no sign of any real change in policy, I would call him out for what he would then have proved to be.

Lynch faces a minimum of five years in prison. If he gets the maximum sentence the law allows, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Whatever sentence he gets will be for actions that are fully legal under California law. Whatever punishment the government hands him will be for deeds neither more nor less than what even those who believe recreational drug use is evil ought to recognise as a sincere service to those who had lost all other hope.

Sentencing in the Lynch case which was scheduled for March 23, 2009 was postponed because the judge requested information from the government regarding the new policy regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.

So what do you call a man who plays with words in order to give an illusion of change? Who is Barack Obama?

The evidence currently points to the fact that at least on the issue of marijuana policy, he is a liar. Of the worst possible sort.

Now that Obama and his government has made it unambiguously clear to the court that they approve of Lynch’s prosecution, there seems to be little reason why the court should wait. There have been many postponements of the sentencing so far, but there are unlikely to be any more.

Charlie Lynch will learn his fate on April 23 in Los Angeles.

(Previous posts on Charlie Lynch here)

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So says Eric Holder.

As I wrote in this post, ending the raids was one of Obama’s campaign promises, so one would reasonably expect him to reverse Bush policy on this issue.  Politicians though, have lied on such matters before and political appointees even more so; thus I will wait to see actual change on the ground before celebrating.

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Jacob Sullum writes:

Yesterday I wondered whether and when President Obama would follow through on his oft-repeated campaign promise to stop the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws by harassing patients and dispensaries. Today The Washington Times reports that Obama plans to suspend the DEA’s raids once he “nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.” I don’t understand why Obama can’t simply tell the Bush administration holdovers to cut it out; they work for him now. But it’s encouraging that the White House is now on record with a promise to keep Obama’s promise. “The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Times, “and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind.” It seems like Obama is dragging his feet, but it will be hard for him to wriggle out of his commitment now.

Hmm…

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Having praised Obama yesterday, I think it is all the more important to point out that so far, there are no signs he has reversed the policy of raiding medical marijuana units in states like California (where medical marijuana is legal).

As Jacob Sullum puts it:

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” Obama told the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune last March. How many more raids will it take before that counts as a lie?

Obama categorically said on the campaign trail — to the Tribune as well as to other questioners — that he would end these raids (the raids themselves are possible because of  a ridiculous state-federal law incompatibility on this issue). For many libertarian leaning people, that statement of Obama’s was one of the primary reasons they supported him. 

Yes, he deserves some slack. It takes a little while to change policy, and he has been in power for just a few weeks. He has  had a lot on his plate, with the economic crisis and appointment troubles, and it is understandable if he hasn’t been able to deal with this matter yet.

So I am going to give him three months. If these raids continue beyond that, I’ll call him out for what he will then have proved to be — a liar with ruined lives on his hands.

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Here’s a video of the October 6 protest:

Lynch appears in court for sentencing on November 24. He could theoretically be sent to prison for 100 years.

If you are new to my blog, or unfamiliar with the story of Charlie Lynch, please go through my old posts on the subject. Or better still, watch the excellent Reason TV documentaries on this topic (in order, this, this and this).

And at the end of it all, if you feel that whatever the government is doing to Lynch is fundamentally wrong, please, please help.

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