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Patient advocates support federal appeal by Central Coast dispensary operator

Posted on July 10th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief July 9 in a federal appeal brought by California dispensary operator Charlie C. Lynch. Lynch's case drew a lot of attention during his 2008 trial and June 2009 sentencing under the Obama Justice Department. Though Lynch was supported by local officials and the Chamber of Commerce in Morro Bay, where his state-compliant Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC) was located, the DEA raided and shut down CCCC in 2007 anyway. A hearing in the Lynch appeal is expected this winter.

"We feel strongly that the federal government is abusing its prosecutorial discretion on medical marijuana cases like Lynch's," said ASA chief counsel Joe Elford, who filed the brief in support of Lynch. "These types of prosecutions against medical marijuana providers continue unabated under the Obama administration," Elford asserted, citing more than 70 such indictments since the president took office. "We must stem the tide of federal prosecutions and instead defer to state courts to deliberate violations of state law."

Though the Obama administration sought a five-year sentence for Lynch, federal district Judge George H. Wu considered Obama's declarations of tolerance toward medical marijuana and in 2009 sentenced Lynch to a year and a day.

Lynch's appeal comes as the Obama administration is spending significant resources to shut down state-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries. Under threat of federal action, hundreds of state-compliant dispensaries have been shut down over the past year.

Although President Barack Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder contend that the Justice Department is only targeting facilities violating state law, ASA says the evidence indicates otherwise. For  example, Attorney General Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee that his Justice Department only undertakes enforcement actions against medical marijuana organizations operating "out of conformity with state law." Yet, four days later, on June 11, the DEA raided another widely supported, fully-permitted Sacramento dispensary, El Camino Wellness.

"Attorney General Holder and President Obama must be held accountable for their aggressive over-reaction in medical marijuana states," said ASA director Steph Sherer. "They're either ill-advised about what the Justice Department and other other federal agencies are doing in medical marijuana states, or they're lying to American public." (ASA, July 10)

Photo by the Mad Pothead 


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