Pot Dispensary Owner Gets One Year In Prison Despite Holder’s Policy
By Andrew Ramonas | June 11, 2022 5:08 pm

California pot dispensary owner Charles Lynch received a one year and one day prison term from U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu this afternoon, The Associated Press reported today.

The case which we previously reported on here has garnered national media attention because of Attorney General Eric Holder’s stated policy of not raiding medicinal marijuana facilities that are legal under state law. The sheriff of Kern County, Calif. and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided Lynch’s facility in Bakersfield last month after the Attorney General’s announcement.

Central District of California U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien told The New York Times that Lynch broke state laws because Lynch was not his users’ primary caregiver and he didn’t provide any medical care beyond selling the marijuana. DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller told The Times that the Justice Department is “not prioritizing federal resources to go after individuals or organizations unless there is a violation of both federal and state law.”

Federal law forbids the cultivation, sale and use of pot for medical reasons. Authorities have raided more than 100 pot dispensaries - many in California - since California sanctioned medical marijuana in 1996, according to The Times.

Wu decided not to give Lynch the mandatory five-year minimum sentence for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, using a federal provision that allowed him to lower the prison term, according to The AP. Lynch, however, must still serve two one-year sentences for selling marijuana to a person under age 21, The AP said.

“It’s not really a victory,” Lynch told The AP. “In a way it’s a loss, but not a bad loss.”

Medical marijuana supporters told The Times that this decision will have a chilling effect on efforts to protect medicinal pot.

“That Attorney General Holder changed federal policy three months ago only makes this miscarriage of justice all the more disturbing,” Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for a change in drug policy, told The Times. “Charlie is like a forgotten prisoner of war, abandoned after a truce was declared.”

We previously reported that the House Appropriations Committee added an amendment to the Justice Department budget bill Tuesday that would require the DOJ to clarify its policies on the enforcement of federal laws regarding the use of medical marijuana.


One Comment

  1. This story has some incorrect information. The paragraph about Kern County and date of raid in 2009 in this story is not correct.

    Lynch’s dispensary was raided in March 2007 by San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges and his henchmen along with the DEA. Lynch was not arrested at the time of the raid, but later arrested on July 17, 2007. Lynch went on trial in July 2008 and was convicted in August 2008. Lynch has not operated a dispensary since his closed in May 2007 after the DEA threatened the landlord with forfieture of his property.

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