Sentencing Delayed In Medical Marijuana Case

Charles Lynch speaks with supporters outside federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday. The judge heard from several character witnesses, including one of Lynch’s patients and the patient’s father.Charles Lynch speaks with supporters outside federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday. The judge heard from several character witnesses, including one of Lynch’s patients and the patient’s father.A federal judge says he’s inclined to impose less than the required five years on Charles Lynch, who ran a Morro Bay dispensary. Lawyers are given time to file briefs before a June hearing.

The sentencing of a man who has become a key figure in the national debate over medical marijuana was postponed Thursday, with a federal judge saying he was inclined to impose a more lenient sentence than the five years required by federal sentencing guidelines, but questioning whether he had the authority to do so.

“If I could find a way out, I would,” U.S. District Judge George H. Wu said. He gave lawyers in the case until June 2 to file briefs regarding the impending sentence of Charles Lynch.

Lynch, 47, ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay on the Central Coast in 2006 and 2007. Despite having the blessing of the city’s mayor and other public officials, he was charged with violating federal drug laws for distributing marijuana and was convicted by a federal court jury in Los Angeles last year.

At the hearing Thursday, Wu heard from several character witnesses, including one of Lynch’s patients and the young man’s father.

“I stand before you today because I believe a man is being punished for reasons that don’t make much sense,” said Owen Beck, whose parents took him to Lynch’s Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers when he was battling bone cancer at age 17. “I believe a great injustice is being done.”

Beck’s father, Steven, told Wu that the chemotherapy his son was undergoing was having devastating side effects.

“He could not eat. He could not sleep. His personality became dark and angry,” the elder Beck said. He told the judge they decided to try medical marijuana on the advice of their son’s Stanford University oncologist. He said Lynch usually gave them marijuana for free or at deeply discounted rates.

“I never felt as though Charlie was there for the money,” Beck said.

Such testimony was not allowed at Lynch’s trial because the Supreme Court has ruled that a claim of medical necessity is not a valid defense.

Janice Peters, the mayor of Morro Bay, described Lynch as a “polite, compassionate” man who did everything the city asked of him with respect to his business.

Rob Schultz, the town’s city attorney said he received only one complaint about Lynch the whole time he was in business “and that had to do with the quality of the medical marijuana.”

The comment drew loud laughter from Lynch’s supporters, who packed the courtroom, many of them wearing green ribbons with the word “compassion” printed on them.

Cultivating, using and selling doctor-recommended medical marijuana is allowed under some circumstances in California and a dozen other states, but federal law bans the drug altogether.

Though Lynch was not charged with violating state law, prosecutors contend that he broke the law because he was not truly a “primary caregiver” entitled to dispense marijuana to patients and that he profited from the operation of his business.

Much of the discussion Thursday dealt with whether Wu was required to sentence Lynch to a mandatory minimum of five years or whether the defendant was entitled to a lesser sentence under a so-called safety valve.

The next hearing in the case, which the judge said would be the last, is scheduled for June 11.

– Article from The Los Angeles Times.



  1. Anonymous on

    I can tell you from personal experience that the safety valve is not what you think. It will reduce his prison sentence from 5 years to 24 months of which he will have to do 85%. That will still leave him in federal prison for over 20 months. Also the judge is acting dumb here, the supreme court ruled in 2005 that the guidelines are not mandatory but suggested guidelines which the judges must tell the department of justice when they give a different sentence and their reasons why. This man will still be locked up in federal prison unless the judge decides to be brave and do the right thing which would be no prison time. We must all stand up and convince the government that prison is for violent offenders and criminals.

    Good luck !

  2. Anonymous on

    its about goddamm fucking sick of these pot laws and the assholes who proffit from themdrug dealers and cops they are all the same blood sucking dispicable proffiteers in human misery

  3. Anonymous on

    i think our forefathers would burndown these court houses if this kind of crap was around then and there would have been a few judges burned at the stake

  4. Anonymous on

    We, in this country, need more judges like judge Wu. Fair, honest , kind @ extremely considerate. We could benefit in this country if we had alot more judges like him.

  5. Anonymous on

    Finally some peace for a man who did nothing but provide a good service for his community. No reason he should be in jail at all!

    Keep the truth!!