Charles C. Lynch seemed to be doing everything right when he opened a medical marijuana dispensary in the tidy coastal town of Morro Bay, Calif.
The mayor, the city attorney and leaders of the local Chamber of Commerce all came for the ribbon-cutting in 2006. The conditions for his business license, including a ban on customers younger than 18 and compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws, were posted on the wall.
But two years later, Mr. Lynch was convicted of multiple felonies under federal law for selling marijuana. He is one of hundreds of defendants and prisoners caught in the stark conflict between federal law — which puts marijuana in the same class as heroin, with no exception for medical sales — and many states’ decisions to allow medical uses.
“I feel so left out of society,” Mr. Lynch, 52, who is out on bond and appealing his conviction, said from a battered trailer behind his mother’s house here in northwestern New Mexico. He is waiting to see if he must go to prison.
At Mr. Lynch’s 2008 trial, even the term “medical marijuana” was largely forbidden, as was testimony about Mr. Lynch’s compliance with California law.
Mr. Lynch opened his business after a decade working in computer software, and he was doing well enough to buy a modest house with an ocean view. He felt excited to be “on the leading edge of a new industry,” he recalled the other day. He had a personal interest, too, having discovered that marijuana eased his severe migraines far better than prescription painkillers had.
Janice Peters, who served three terms as mayor of Morro Bay, criticized his prosecution.
“He is such a soft-spoken, nice guy, and to tear his life apart just makes no sense,” she said. When the dispensary opened, she gave out her card to neighboring businesses and asked them to report any problems. “There was never any complaint,” she said.
We need to stop ruining people’s lives. Legalize marijuana. Treat it like alcohol and tobacco – tax it and regulate it.
End the War on Drug Users now!