I had hoped to write about a bunch of transit stuff tonight, but I’m entirely distracted. Today, Charles Lynch, the former operator of a Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary, was convicted on five counts: conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and concentrated cannabis, manufacturing less than 100 plants, knowingly maintaining a drug premises, and sales of marijuana to a person under the age of 21. He faces at least 5 years in prison.
In my line of work, I’m used to depressing news – every day seems to be a roller coaster, but Lynch’s story is particularly disheartening to me. I remember talking to him several years ago when he was opening up his dispensary in Morro Bay. He worked closely with the city and was always very concerned about doing things in the best way possible for the community and his patient base. When he opened, the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce showed up at the ribbon cutting ceremony:
Lynch had excellent attorneys defending him, and they mounted a strong entrapment defense. But it didn’t matter – though medical marijuana made it into his federal trial, the jurors were instructed that they must decide based on the facts of the case, not on how they felt about the justice of the laws in place.
On my way home from work I thought about what this meant for Oakland. The DEA is not letting up on its attacks of dispensaries throughout the state and now may even be bringing in Blackwater agents to do their dirty work (though they deny this, of course). I certainly don’t have a copy of the DEA’s playbook, but it would be naive to think that Oakland is immune from these types of these attacks. If someone like Charles Lynch could be raided and prosecuted, well, anyone could.
I started thinking about the Oakland medical marijuana dispensary operators I know well – they’re in this for all the right reasons and they willingly risk arrest and prosecution every day that they provide medicine to patients. Lynch’s trial was hard enough for me, but I’m not sure I could handle sitting through one of their trials.
Even if the DEA spares Oakland of future raids, one Oakland provider, Michael Martin, has already plead guilty to manufacturing medical marijuana edibles and will likely be sentenced next month. From the result of Lynch’s trial, it’s easy to see why someone like Martin would plead guilty, especially since he had to think about his children growing up with their father in prison for ten or more years if had gone to trial and been convicted.
I do hope that Oakland is spared from further DEA attacks – we only have to hold out a few more months because I’m confident that President Obama will not allow these senseless raids to continue. Until then, I’ll continue to be ready to get that awful call any day and will be ready to respond by putting my own liberty on the line.
If you’re not convinced that Charles Lynch’s conviction was unjust, take a look at this video, and if you are convinced, visit his website to find out how you can get involved.