Medical Marijuana Salesman Railroaded by Feds
When it comes to medical marijuana, the American legal system can't seem to get it straight. While some states have ruled that medical marijuana is legal, it doesn't change the fact that federal law - and law enforcement agencies like the DEA - still consider marijuana a schedule 1 narcotic (that's the same as heroin). So possessing it or selling it remains a felony.
Federal law supersedes state law. And because of this, some unfortunate people have been arrested for doing things that are legal in the eyes of their state, but illegal in the eyes of the Federal government. Case in point: Charlie Lynch, the California man who was arrested after DEA agents seized 30 pounds of marijuana that he kept at his place of business.
Here's the catch: Lynch's business was state-licensed marijuana dispensary.
There was absolutely nothing about Lynch's business that wasn't completely above board - as a licensed business owner, he was a member of his local chamber of commerce. Lynch even held a grand opening ceremony for his store, complete with a ribbon-cutting photo op. Hell, he even called the DEA to let them know that he was opening a marijuana dispensary.
But though Lynch was only selling marijuana to patients whose doctors had recommended they use the drug, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges was not impressed. After the dispensary was open, Hedges put it under surveillance by sheriff's department officers.
Lynch's lawyers claim that the county officers tried to get Lynch to violate federal law in the sale of the marijuana.
"In every case what [the sheriff department officers] found was that [Lynch's] employees always verified doctor's recommendations," said one of Lynch's attorneys John Littrell, adding that the cops couldn't get "Charlie or anyone that Charlie was working with, to dispense marijuana in a way that violated state law."
Lynch may have been operating well within the limits of California state law, but he was convicted on federal charges and is now staring a 100-year prison sentence in the face. "It just seems so unfair what they've done to me," Lynch said. "They put the fear of 'gov,' I call that instead of the fear of God, fear of government into people." Like most things related to the issue of medical marijuana, Lynch's situation has become more about politics than health.
Lynch is still awaiting sentencing, and his unfortunate situation has become something of a cause celeb. Comedian Drew Carey worked with reason.com to put together a video denouncing the conviction and telling the true story of Charlie Lynch. You can watch the video here.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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