Though Medical Marijuana has been proven to help relieve pain for cancer patients and other sufferers, under federal laws it is still considered illegal. Charles C. Lynch, owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in California, was sentenced to a 1 year prison term. While state laws may allow for the disbursement of medical marijuana, federal laws doesn’t even though the Obama administration promised not to prosecute anyone if they have complied with state law.
“I find I cannot get around the one-year sentence,” Judge George H. Wu, the judge at Lynch’s hearing, said of federal sentencing laws. Though Judge Wu understands the state law and the many ways Lynch tried to oblige these laws, he had trouble finding a loophole that would avoid sending him to prison. A mandatory of five years is the sentence for this sort of crime, but the Judge reduced it due to Lynch’s lack of previous criminal history.
Many legal experts believe that this case highlights the conflicts between state and federal laws. Federal law prohibits the development, sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but 13 states allow it. The 13 states that allow it include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
“He is caught between California’s voter-approved medical marijuana system and the Bush administration’s single-minded effort to smother it,” said Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance. “That Attorney General Holder changed federal policy three months ago only makes this miscarriage of justice all the more disturbing. Charlie is like a forgotten prisoner of war, abandoned after a truce was declared.”