Friends of Charles C. Lynch

As many of you probably know, I’m a strong supporter of all drug legalization on both ethical and practical grounds. However, here’s a story that should tug at the heart strings of even those who are staunchly in favour of prohibition.

Charles C. Lynch is the former owner and managing Caregiver for Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay. The dispensary opened on April 1 2006 with the blessing of the city and even joined the Chamber of Commerce. In July 2006 the dispensary was granted a Conditional Use Permit from the City of Morro Bay to include a Medical Cannabis Nursery at the dispensary.

On March 29, 2007 the Local Sheriff and DEA agents raided the Dispensary and Home of Charles Lynch. Lynch was not arrested at the time and reopened the dispensary on April 7 2007 with the blessing of the City of Morro Bay.

On July 17, 2007 Lynch was arrested at his home and charged with Federal Marijuana Distribution. On August 5, 2008 Lynch was convicted in Federal Court for operating the Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers.

It’s particularly worrying to note that facts relevent to this trial were barred from the courtroom. For example, Owen Beck a former customer who used marijuana to alleviate his bone cancer pain and nausea caused by chemotherapy, was sent packing by U.S. District Judge George Wu.

Wu decreed there would be no talk of the symptoms marijuana relieves, no references to California’s recognition of marijuana as a medicine, no mention even of the phrase “medical marijuana” in front of the jury.

In short, there would be no explanation of how Lynch came to operate what prosecutors called a “marijuana store” in downtown Morro Bay for a year, openly serving more than 2,000 customers.


For those interested, the Reason foundation and Drew Carey have been involved with drawing attention to this miscarriage of justice.

7 thoughts on “Friends of Charles C. Lynch

  1. This is another example, like the euthenasia case below where Christian conservatives need to recognise grace and mercy as virtues.

    Are you sure God doesn’t want paitients to be alleviated from the pain of their terminal bone cancer?

    Is this consitent with the “golden rule” as imposed by Jesus?

  2. I’m sure Jesus said, “Don’t smoke hash!” He must have!
    California has suffered a few cases like this. I remember reading, in the book “Cannabis and cancer”, about another Doctor who was allowed to operate under State laws, but not under Federal Laws. He was jailed, I think. And I think the State was California.
    The Documentary, “Grass”, is worth looking at, and it’s in all good DVD stores!

  3. Mark, I don’t think there is a Christian argument against drug legalization. Didn’t they drink a lot in the Bible?

    I think marijuana legalization is going to get harder and harder as cigarette smoking becomes more and more stigmatized (frankly one of the most ridiculous drugs in regard to the cost/benefit weigh up).

    I think the debate has to shift away from the moral justification for legalization (yes that means most of the ideological libertarian arguments) onto a consequentialist approach to the harms of the current criminalization (such as above).

    Because frankly from my experience once someone has been raised to believe that all drugs are like vile poison which eat away at your soul… they aren’t the easiest to convince otherwise. Plus I think the lay about hippy image of most drug users doesn’t exactly motivate flexible conservatives.

  4. Tim, I wonder what happened to this case on appeal. Unreasonable rulings by judges offer grounds for overturning verdicts and ordering new trials in criminal cases like this.

    Having said that, the US administration seems to have a total blind spot on drugs. It’s like hearing Mr Garrison: “Drugs are bad, OK?”.

  5. Hey,

    I really appreciate you posting this blog. I am a medical marijuana patient who sat through this trial to support medical marijuana. I never met Charles C. Lynch before his trial began but I have since gotten to know him and I have taken an active role in planning a protest on 10/6 at 11am outside the Federal Courthouse at 312 N. Spring St. Los Angeles.

    I’d like to provide some more info to this post and these comments for clarity. Charlie faces 100 years in federal prison even though he operated within his business license requirements, city regulations, country restrictions, and state law. The only law he was guilty of breaking with a federal law that considers cannabis to have no medical benefit and to be highly addictive and places it as a schedule 1 drug. There have been hundreds, even thousands of peer review steadiness that have proven the medical benefit of cannabis. Including but not limited to, the UC San Diego study that showed moderates amount of THC from smoked cannabis you alleviate neurological pain. in addition, a Stanford study has proven that cannabis is less addictive than alcohol, heroine, and tobacco.

    not only did Charlie have the support of city officials while operating in his medical marijuana dispensary, he also had the Mayor and the city attorney testify on his behalf. Both testified to Charlie’s law biding nature.

    I think it should also be mentioned that the owen beck had to have his leg amputated because of his bone cancer and suffered phantom pains because of it. The medical marijuana helped alleviated his pain. His testimony was stricken from the record because he only knew Charlie from the medical marijuana store.

    In Judge Wu’s defense he did not allow medical marijuana to be discussed because of Federal precedent set by the supreme court. However, parts of state law and medical marijuana was allowed to be discussed because Charlie called the DEA before opening his medical marijuana dispensary and asked them what they were going to do about all the medical marijuana dispensaries in California. The DEA agent told him it’s up to the cities and counties to handle that matter. So Charlie sought to comply with city, county, and state laws.

    Please let me know if you have any further interest in this situation.

  6. Herbalicious, we also have similar cases here in Australia, and the book ‘Cannabis and Cancer’ tells of an old man’s last years needing marijuana in cookies to live an almost-painless life. The Victorian government wouldn’t even think about allowing you to have drugs for innocent purposes like this! The Premier Bracks had a valid point though- their dog, Lucy, did become a cookie addict after trying a few! Who needs spaced-out pets?

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