Why do we do what we do?

Mar 21, 2009

California, Charles Lynch, DEA, Holder

Today, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Charles C. Lynch – a man who you must have already heard about here or in any number of news stories about his case. Charlie is one of the last victims of George Bush’s war on medical marijuana.

This is a man who complied with every state and local medical marijuana law and was even told by federal officials that they would leave him alone so long as he complied with these statutes. What Charlie didn’t expect was for a rogue county sheriff to call in the DEA to arrest and prosecute him under draconian federal marijuana laws, after being frustrated by California’s state law that should have protected him.

On Monday, Charlie faces sentencing on five counts of federal drug crimes in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He is facing up to 20 years in prison for helping sick and dying patients to obtain their medicine in a safe, clean setting. 

Charlie's sentencing comes only five days after U.S. Attorney General Holder confirmed that the nation’s policy on medical marijuana has changed for the better.

[caption id="attachment_369" align="alignright" width="373" caption="Charlie posing with a supporter during a rally at the Los Angeles federal courthouse, October 2008"]Charlie posing with a supporter during a rally outside the federal courthouse in Los Angeles, October 2008[/caption]

All of us here at MPP – and indeed anyone who has ever met Charlie – are feeling a little sick right now thinking of what this good man is going through. Hopefully Charlie's judge is also sympathetic and will take state law – not to mention the recent policy change at the DOJ –  into consideration before handing down a sentence.

Charlie’s tragic story is a painful reminder of just how important our work is and how our destructive marijuana policy affects people's real lives, every day.