Los Angeles – Federal Judge George H. Wu denies former medical marijuana provider Charles C. Lynch’s request for a new trial even though new evidence has been submitted. A jury found Lynch guilty of five cannabis-only felonies on August 5, 2008 for violating federal drug laws even though Lynch’s dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers (CCCC), provided medical marijuana legal within California law.
The only violation of state law presented in federal court was that of a CCCC security guard, Abe Baxter, who allegedly sold marijuana to a paid-criminal informant with undercover San Luis Obispo (SLO) County sheriff’s deputy, Nick A. Fontecchio, present in a Big 5 parking lot, at least 12 miles away from CCCC.
“Charles C. Lynch had no knowledge of, and in no way authorized, condoned or participated in any way in the cannabis transaction alleged against me … The conspiracy allegations against Mr. Lynch are false,” Baxter states in a declaration to Judge Wu.
Even with this new assertion, the Judge denied Lynch a new trial on January 5, 2008. Judge Wu scheduled Lynch for sentencing on Monday February 23 at 8:30 am. Lynch faces up to 100 years in federal prison even though he followed all his “Medical Marijuana Dispensary” business license requirements, city regulations, county restrictions and state law.
SLO County Sheriff, Pat Hedges, had his narcotics deputies investigate Lynch, his employees, his patients and his dispensary. For eleven months, Sheriff’s deputies staked out the location taking photos, video, writing down license plate numbers, following patients and employees, and even pulling over employees after leaving the location.
Sheriff Deputies also used paid criminal informants to go undercover to attempt to get evidence of Lynch breaking the law. One paid criminal informant was even allowed to keep his personal stash of marijuana after Sheriff Deputy Nicholas A. Fontecchio found 2 joints in his pocket before going undercover.
On Sept 12, 2005, Lynch called four separate Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) phone numbers to inquire about opening a medical marijuana dispensary in California. The final DEA agent told Lynch “It’s up to the cities and county to decide how to handle the [medical marijuana dispensary]matter.”
Lynch relied on that advice and began working with city and county officials in preparation of opening the only medical marijuana dispensary in SLO County. Lynch gave dispensary tours to local representatives to demonstrate the safety procedures he had created to assure medical marijuana was not diverted while providing safe access to qualified patients.
The Morro Bay Police had a good standing with the dispensary and often had friendly visits to the location. The Mayor, Janice Peters, had personally given her business card to all CCCC’s surrounding businesses and asked them to call if they ever had an issue with the dispensary. She testified she never received one complaint. Both the Mayor and City Attorney, Rob Schultz, testified to Lynch’s law-abiding nature with Schultz also confirming he never received one complaint against Lynch, employees, patients or his location.
Friends of Charles C. Lynch will demonstrate against the injustice of federal medical marijuana laws in California cases at noon on Monday, February 23, 2009 on the Main Street side of the Federal Courthouse.
Watch Charles’ story on ABC 20/20!
ABC’s 20/20 correspondent John Stossel’s investigative unit is going to cast its usually critical eye at government overreach and wasteful spending, this time specifically towards the noted case of medical cannabis provider Charles Lynch. By all media accounts and advanced in his legal defense, Mr. Lynch was operating a ‘Main Street’ medical cannabis dispensary in Santa Barbara, California in compliance with local and state medical cannabis laws. However, the federal government continues to selectively arrest and prosecute medical cannabis providers under federal laws. Mr. Lynch’s appeal for a new trial has been rejected and he now potentially faces a mandatory five-year sentence at an upcoming sentencing hearing. Depending on the editing process, the story will likely broadcast either Friday the 9th or 16th @ 10PM (eastern).
Letter from Charles Lynch supporter Cheryl Aichele
January 12, 2009
Re: Charles C. Lynch case
Attached is a press release about the latest news in the Charles C. Lynch case. As you can see my new friend is caught in the middle of the federal government’s war on marijuana and state’s rights. Under state law he was legal. Due to federal mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines he faces up to 100 years in federal prison. And he needs your help.
If you had a chance to meet Charlie, you would see he’s no criminal and he doesn’t deserve to spend any time in behind bars. He’s going bankrupt and losing the home which he has had for years before starting his own medical marijuana dispensary. Many friends have abandoned him because they fear the government.
His life has been ruined, not by medical marijuana, but by the laws that are meant to protect people. The laws are said to protect people from marijuana but who will protect the people from the laws? Charlie’s case is a perfect example of a bad law gone drastically wrong.
It has been estimated that the federal government has spent hundreds of thousands of (if not over a million) dollars on prosecuting this non-violent man. That doesn’t include the amount of California tax-payers’ money spent by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff on investigating Charlie’s dispensary for nearly a year. Within that year, the Sheriff didn’t find any evidence to get a state search warrant against Charlie.
Please consider speaking at a peaceful demonstration in Lynch’s honor Monday Feb. 23 at Noon on the Main St side of the LA Federal courthouse. He needs your help. Please stand up for him. Please protect him and the law Californian’s voted on in 1996. If you look into the facts of this case, you will see he’s a victim of the Federal government’s cruel injustices and the state’s misconduct and negligence.
Sent to the following people:
Michael J. Fox
Los Angeles politicians
LA Mayor Antonio Villaragosa
LA City Council Member Bill Rosendahl
LA City Council Member Dennis Zine
LA City Council Member Janice Hahn
Co-Signers of HR 5842
US Rep Maurice Hinchey
US Rep Ron Paul
US Rep Sam Farr
US Rep Dana Rohrabacker
US Rep Barney Frank
US Rep Brad Sherman
US Rep Adam Schiff
US Rep Loretta Sanchez
US Rep John Conyers Jr
US Rep Howard Berman
US Rep Darrell Issa
US Rep Dan Lungren
Individual’s Reps & Senators or Misc
US Rep Lois Capp
US Rep Dennis J. Kucinich
US Rep Jane Harman
US Senator Diane Feinstein
US Senator Barbara Boxer