Digital News Report- The owner of a Morro Bay medical cannabis dispensary has been sentence to one year in prison for five marijuana related offenses. The offenses include manufacturing more than 100 plants and selling marijuana to a minor, which, according to federal rules, is anyone under the age of 21. The sentence is a reduction from the five years mandated by federal guidelines as U.S. District Judge George Wu felt that dispensary owner Charlie Lynch deserved an exception and that his case “merits a mandatory minimum.”
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has strongly condemned the federal sentencing of Lynch. “Years from now, Mr. Lynch may well be remembered as the last American to go to federal prison for a mistake, the final victim of an already repudiated policy well on its way to the ash heap of history, but whose mean-spirited effects still linger,” said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. “This sentence is a cruel and pointless miscarriage of justice.”
MPP also stated that Lynch’s medical marijuana collective was licensed by the city of Morro Bay, and routinely inspected to monitor compliance with state and local laws. The dispensary, which was raided in March 2007, had operated for 11 months without any incidents.
The case marks an important milestone in state and federal marijuana laws. Under the Bush administration, the DEA regularly raided dispensaries such as Lynch’s. However, Presdent Obama stated that he was, “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also alluded to a change in policy shortly afterwards. This is the first such case since those statements were made.
Lynch’s case and continued raids on dispensaries have made some in Congress to ask for clarification on the new policies. There are currently more than two dozen federal cases still pending. Under federal court, those charged with marijuana offenses cannot use state medical cannabis laws as a defense.