July 26, 2008

State, U.S. Pot Laws Clash in Calif. Case

Lawyers for a California man charged with dealing pot say they're struggling to defend him because they're barred from using the term medical marijuana.

Attorneys for Charlie Lynch, 46, of San Luis Obispo County, Calif., say he was under the impression he was working within California's state laws while operating Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay, Calif. But U.S. prosecutors say he broke federal narcotics laws by selling $2.1 million worth of pot to some customers not old enough to legally drink, The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The trial judge has ruled out any reference to medical marijuana because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that concluded federal drug laws trump those of California, where distribution of marijuana for medical reasons is allowed.

This has set up a potential showdown between conflicting state and federal laws and has hampered Lynch's defense attorneys, the newspaper said. They implied during opening statements in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Friday that Lynch had sought and received approval from an official with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration before he set up shop.