Medical Marijuana Test Case Pits U.S. Attorney Against Holder’s Stated Policy

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Charles C. Lynch

Attorney General Eric Holder’s new policy to not go after medical marijuana operations operating within state law is already being tested by the case of Charles C. Lynch. Operator of a small medical marijuana dispensary in the California coastal town of Morro Bay, Lynch was arrested in 2007 on charges that he was an unauthorized distributor of pot. Following Lynch’s recent conviction in federal court, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien asked the presiding judge to impose a five-year sentence.

Judge George H. Wu, a Bush appointee who is hearing his first federal case, has postponed sentencing until June 11 to give him time to review arguments from prosecutors and the defense. News accounts reported that Judge Wu seemed inclined to go easy on Lynch, but he noted that federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws may tie his hands.
Lynch has become a symbol for the medical marijuana movement, and his supporters include both the mayor and city attorney of Morro Bay, both of whom testified on his behalf in court.
California is one of 13 states that have adopted laws allowing individuals to sell and use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
Despite Holder’s stated policy, the Justice Department so far has so far allowed local federal prosecutors to decide whether marijuana suppliers, including those licensed by local governments, have violated state law.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Jail Term to Be Sought in Medical Marijuana Case (by Solomon Moore, New York Times)
Marijuana Defendants Push for Leniency (by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)


AB390 15 years ago
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