Saturday, March 14, 2009

Add Charlie Lynch to America's Most Wanted

Last evening I witnessed one of the poorest displays of “investigative journalism” that I have ever had the misfortune of watching. After being subjected to a two week long campaign advertising the airing of John Stossel’s show Bailouts and Bull; I was led to believe that he was going to expose the numerous flaws in some of the bailout plans. He devoted approximately five minutes to these plans. The rest of the show was spent reporting on issues that would have made Geraldo proud. However, I was able to extract one story that was worthy of further research. That was the story of Charlie Lynch; a California man who ran a dispensary that provided marijuana for people who required it for medicinal purposes.

On March 29, 2007, his store called the Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, was raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). At the time, no arrests were made and according to reporter Radley Balko; the store reopened on April 7th. The reason being is that California is one of 13 states that allow the sale of marijuana with written approval by a physician stating that marijuana is a necessary part of their treatment. The DEA was not done. They pressured Lynch’s landlord to evict him or risk the forfeiture of his property. The landlord complied with these Gestapo style threats and evicted Charlie Lynch on May 16th. After his eviction; Lynch was later arrested and tried on August 5, 2008. He was found guilty, completely ignoring California law, and was released on $400 thousand bail. At his federal trial, the fact that he was operating under the parameters of California law was deemed inadmissible. What? Also deemed inadmissible was the testimony of his customers who intended to inform the jury of their illnesses and the relief they were given by the marijuana. One of our justice system’s finest hours!

Naturally, Charlie Lynch’s appeal was denied and he remained free on bail until his sentencing. Among the provisions of his bail were ankle bracelet monitoring and restrictions placed on when he could leave his home-they were between 1 and 5 PM. This is all perfectly understandable considering the hardened criminal that Charlie Lynch is. I have read of child molesters who were not subjected to this level of scrutiny. According to Alex Johnson of MSNBC News; Attorney General Eric Holder stated that DEA raids in states where the use of marijuana is permitted for medicinal uses would no longer be allowed. This was a pledge made by President Obama during his campaign. How refreshing it is to see a President fulfill a promise.

The precedent cited by the Supreme Court in upholding the Lynch verdict was the Raich decision in the case of Gonzales, Attorney General et al v. Raich et al. in 2004. According to the Cornell Law University, the decision was based on the Federal Controlled Substance Act which classifies each controlled drug into one of five categories. "Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance based on its huge potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and no accepted safety for use in medically supervised treatment. This classification renders the manufacture, distribution, or posession of marijuana a criminal offense." For more information, go to The court ruled that this act superseded California’s Compassionate Use Act. Compassion; we’ll have none of that.

Personally, I am not a proponent of the legalization of marijuana (I can feel the daggers from some already). However, to deny a cancer patient relief due to a jurisdictional dispute between federal and state laws is both irresponsible and inhumane. I have read nothing that contradicts the idea that marijuana is effective in the treatment of pain for certain ailments. If there are any; I need someone to explain to me the difference between the use of morphine or oxycontin over the use of marijuana. Don’t worry; I’ll wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment