Monday, February 23, 2009

No Oscar for Citizens Protesting Unjust Federal Marijuana Laws

No Oscar for Medical Marijuana Providers
by Norm Kent
There will be no Oscar awards for this real life ceremony coming to Los Angeles today.

Protesters will righteously and defiantly gather on the corner of Main Street and Temple St outside the federal courthouse at 12:00 PM on Monday, February 23.
They will be medical marijuana patients and advocates unified to protest strenuously the upcoming sentencing of Charles C. Lynch, who was convicted for operating a medical marijuana dispensing collective in Morro Bay in August of last year.

The organizers have no red carpet. They just want to draw public attention to Lynch's case hoping against hope that Judge Wu will use his discretion to impose a lenient sentence on the 46-year old Lynch, who could face decades in federal prison. That would be Change we can believe in.

"People need to know that Charles Lynch is going to federal prison even though he was obeying state and local law," event organizer Cheryl Aichele told the online paper,, "It is not fair that he should be caught in the crossfire between state and federal law." But he is and if we do not do something about it, he will be gunned down.

California is one of thirteen states in which medical marijuana is legal, but federal law prohibits its use under any circumstances. That means that though Mr. Lynch obeyed local and state laws, he becomes a national and federal prisoner. That means he is a victim of American injustice at its worst.

Mr. Obama became President on January 20. Of course, he wanted time to catch up and assume the role. But you do become president on Day 1, and you have to assume the role from the moment you take the oath, flubbed or not. There is no time for Mr. Lynch. His sentencing is in less than a month.
Yes, I read that on February 4, a White House Spokesman named Nick Shapiro said that President Obama did not want to waste federal law enforcement resources circumventing state medical marijuana laws. Then have the guts to do something about it now. Then please let's find a reporter in the White House pool to ask these questions before Mr. Lynch is sentenced.
Mr. Shapiro opined that he expected the President's new appointees to consider this when setting policy for their agencies. How about having one of them show up at the sentencing for Mr. Lynch? How about directing the US Attorney to stand down? I am available if they want to send me.

Just as Ed Rosenthal in San Francisco was not permitted to present evidence his growhouse was for medical consumers, the prohibitive Federal Rules of Evidence denied Mr. Lynch from presenting any testimony whatsoever about medical marijuana, Mr. Lynch's city business license, or California state law. A jury thus only heard that some man was selling marijuana to line his pockets. Thus, Mr. Lynch was convicted on all counts.

Drew Carey's account of Mr. Lynch's struggle with the federal government on helped the case to receive national media attention. Ed Rosenthal was sentenced to a day in jail. Will our government ask that Mr. Lynch serve any more?

Today, a quiet Monday in L.A., thousands of people will be talking about the Oscars, and as the Hollywood types watch the news this evening, one will see this rag tag band of protestors rallying around the federal courthouse. Somewhere someone will say 'This will make a good film.'
While gay people were being beaten mindlessly in alleys for decades, someone may have said the same for Harvey Milk. Maybe in 20 years some actor will play the role of a Tommy Chong, busted senselessly, incarcerated unjustly, and released to make a difference.
But for Mr. Lynch and his family, there is no time today for a movie tomorrow. This is real life. Unless our President and his administration does something, he is going to jail for years.

Protesters will gather on the corner of Main Street and Temple St outside the federal courthouse at 12:00 PM on Monday, February 23. The street address for the federal courthouse is 312 North Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. If you are in LA, grab a joint, cop a sign, and be there. It will not get you into the Academies, but it will make you a star.

Here are some related links, courtesy of Americans for Safe Access:
White House Statement on Medical Cannabis:
Picture of Lynch at Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony for his dispensary:
Drew Carey/Reason TV documentary short on Lynch:
Recent Los Angeles Times story on the trial:,0,6418930.story
Friends of Charles C. Lynch website:

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