Will Obama bring Change to Medical Cannabis?
Herbalicious | February 4, 2009 at 02:38 pmby
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Contact: Reuven Cohen
Cel: (805) 801-0380
For Immediate Release:
Will Obama bring Change to Medical Cannabis?
The DEA Raids yet More Medical Cannabis Dispensaries but This Time under Obama and Holder
Los Angeles – February 3, 2009. Tuesday the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a several medical cannabis dispensaries and a doctor's office, the first DEA raid since President Obama took office earlier this year. Bush appointed leaders still run the DEA. Yet Eric Holder, Obama's appointed U.S. Attorney General was sworn in as the raids took place.
Under the Bush Administration, in the last two years, the DEA has raided over 100 medical marijuana locations. Charles C. Lynch knows exactly what it is like to be in the DEA’s cross hairs. The DEA along with the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Sheriff’s department raided Lynch’s home and medical marijuana dispensary on March 29, 2007.
They wear full riot gear: masks, helmets, shields, bullet-proof vests, and automatic weapons. At home, Lynch was unarmed and naked. They forced him to the ground and pointed their guns at his head and putting a boot in his back. At the dispensary, they terrorized medical cannabis patients. They did not arrest Lynch that day.
The DEA and SLO County Sheriff returned four months later, on July 17, 2007 in the same paramilitary-style fashion to arrest Lynch. He was found guilty of 5 cannabis-only federal felonies on August 5, 2008. He faces up to 100 years in federal prison, despite the fact that he followed all his “Medical Marijuana Dispensary” business license requirements, city regulations, county restrictions and State laws.
California has not charged Lynch with any state charges. Federal court experts estimate that over one million federal tax-payer dollars has been spent on Lynch’s federal prosecution. Lynch has no history of crime or violence.
President Obama during his Presidential campaign promised to end the federal raids on medical cannabis patients. "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users," Senator Obama said in an August 2007 statement. "It's not a good use of our resources," he continued. President Bush made similar claims during his Presidential campaign but broke his promise.
Medical cannabis supporters flooded the White House with calls, emails and online form comments as a result of the DEA. White House volunteers taking phone calls at the comment line said they received many calls back-to-back about the raids. They encouraged supporters to also use the email options because wait times exceed thirty minutes to an hour at one point.
"Keep the calls coming in,” said a White House volunteer, “there's a lot of support for you guys".
This is not the first time medical cannabis supporters have called upon Washington DC to look into the actions of the DEA. After receiving overwhelming support, the House Judiciary Committee Chair, John Conyers Jr. has inquired into the DEA’s activities in medical cannabis. The DEA’s response back to Conyers was slow and ultimately misleading and incomplete.
In a response to Conyers, the DEA claims they spent $346.14 for direct operational expenditures on Lynch’s raid, arrest and investigation not including the salaries for dozens of special agents, the money spent by local law enforcements or all of the activities associated with this investigation. That amounts does not include the time Special Agent Rachel Burkdohl gets paid to be at each and every court appearance for this case.
Agent Burkdohl testified in Lynch’s trial that she was the most experienced DEA with medical marijuana raids on Lynch's raid. However, she also testified that she did not know how to count marijuana plants despite the fact that she was the one in charge of counting all the plants Lynch had for his patients to grow their own medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis supporters are hopeful that the House Judiciary Committee will move forward with oversight hearings into the DEA’s intimidation and interference in medical cannabis in states that have approved it.
These medical cannabis supporters have tapped into Obama’s online forums to voice their concerns. In Change.gov’s first “Open Question” a cannabis question was the highest rated. The transition team answered that question with one sentence. “President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana”.
These supporters also voted a medical cannabis category to #3 in the Citizen Briefing Book section on change.gov. The top ideas on the Obama transition team's website will go into a Citizens' Briefing Book and be delivered to the new President. Americans for Safe Access (ASA)’s Phil Mocek of Seattle write the idea which suggested ending federal interference in states with medical cannabis laws.
Federal medical cannabis relief cannot come too soon for Lynch and hundreds of others facing federal prosecution, sitting in federal prisons or being raiding by the DEA. Both the Morro Bay Mayor, Janice Peters, and City Attorney, Rob Schultz, testified to Lynch’s law-abiding nature with both confirming they never received one complaint against Lynch, his employees, patients or his location.
Lynch’s case gained national attention after Reason foundation’s the Drew Carey’s Project created a Reason.tv episode featuring Lynch and Owen Beck, a former seventeen year old student athlete who had his leg amputated to keep his bone cancer from spreading. Beck’s parents accompanied him on all his visits to Lynch’s medical cannabis dispensary as his business license requirements stated for minors.
Al Roker interviewed Lynch for a MSNBC show called “An Hour on Marijuana” scheduled to air in the coming weeks. In addition, John Stossel from ABC’s 20/20 interview Lynch and his Federal Public Defenders for an episode called “Bullsh*t in America” scheduled to air Feb 9th or 16th or 20th at 10pm eastern standard time.
Lynch is scheduled to be sentenced Monday February 23, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. Friends of Charles C. Lynch will demonstrate against the injustice of federal medical marijuana laws in California cases at noon on the corner of Temple and Main Street of the Federal Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street Downtown Los Angeles.
If you would like more information about this case, or to schedule an interview with Charles C. Lynch or others, please call Reuven Cohen at (805) 801-0380.
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