Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Activism for Charlie Lynch

Cheryl Aichele writes,

Dear Freedom Fighters,

You can help save an law-biding citizen from going to prison by simply writing a letter to his judge and asking for leniency in sentencing which is scheduled to happen January 12, 2009.

That honorable man is Charles C. Lynch the former operator of the medical marijuana dispensary called Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay, Ca. By some estimates Charlie faces up 100 years in federal prison. However, anytime behind bars would be a travesty of justice in this situation.

Charles did everything he could to follow the laws governing medical marijuana dispensaries in California. He called the DEA months before opening his location to inquire about the laws. He was told by a DEA agent that "it's up to the cities and counties to decide how to handle that [medical marijuana dispensary] matter".

So Charlie worked closely with the city of Morro Bay and the county of San Luis Obispo to obtain a business license which clearly stated "medical marijuana dispensary" and a nursery permit to sell cloned medical marijuana plants. He followed all his business license requirements, city regulations, county restrictions and state laws.

However, the local San Luis Obispo County Sheriff doesn't like medical marijuana and apparently doesn't like following California law. And after 11 months of investigating Charles, his employees, his patients, and his dispensary and NOT finding anything to justify a state-issued search warrant, the local Sheriff called the DEA.

Together both law enforcement agencies forced their way into Charlie's house and place of business with para-military style actions, uniforms and weapons. At his home they forced Charlie to the ground naked and took all his money and medical marijuana. At his dispensary, they terrorized his patients and employees taking everything relevant.

Charlie was allowed to re-open his dispensary by local authorities but the DEA eventually sent a letter intimidating property forfeiture to the landlord of the location. The letter threatened to take all of the landlord's property away if he didn't evict the medical marijuana dispensary from the building.

CCCC was the only medical marijuana dispensary in San Luis Obispo County. Charlie was out of work and more than 2,000 patients with doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana lost their safe access to medicine that helps their chronic conditions and terminal illnesses.

Eventually the DEA and local sheriff's department came back and arrested Charlie at his home and violated his rights by covertly taping the incident and not allowing him to speak with his lawyer. This evidence was eventually not allowed into the case due to the illegal conduct of the DEA.

Charlie's family had to post $400,000 bail with their own property and money to get Charlie out of jail but he was still restricted to house arrest with an ankle bracelet. Drew Carey & ReasonTV did a video about this situation and have followed the story. Check out www.reason.tv for more.

If Charlie's bail amount seems excessive, that's because it is. Especially in comparison to the $5,000 bail set for a San Luis Obispo sheriff's deputy (yes, the same department that investigated, raided, arrested, and eventually testified against Charlie) who is accused of child pornography and who only faces up 10 year in prison.

The disparity in these two bails and sentencing shows the grave injustice of mandatory minimums, sentencing guidelines, bail amounts and the federal government's civil war on drugs as opposed to protecting our children from REAL predators.

The prosecution painted Charlie like a major drug cartel leader to the jury. They said Charlie made over $2 million but what they don't say is that the expenses for running the dispensary, paying the employees and taxes far exceeded that amount and the dispensary was in debt at the time of its closure.

The prosecution also tried to make it seem like Charlie was endangering children in his community by charging him with sales to minors. What they didn't say is the Federal Government considers any ADULT under the age of 21 years old a minor in drug cases. Or that Charlie ONLY sold to adults over 18 years old or to the parents or guardians of patients under 18 years old.

The only evidence of wrongdoing presented in the trial was that of a CCCC's security guard and the only evidence presented connecting Charlie to that wrongdoing was that of said security guard's employment at CCCC and the name of the stain sold to an undercover officer miles away from the dispensary location in a parking lot of a Big5 store. That strain name: Diesel.

Diesel was a name of a strain that CCCC had and it was also the name of a strain sold by the security guard to the undercover cop. However, upon inspection, the two strains were drastically different. And we all know how common the strain name Diesel is. I have some sitting next to me as I type this and I know I did NOT get it from CCCC or Charlie for that matter.

On August 5, 2008 Charles C. Lynch was found guilty of 5 cannabis-only felonies and faces 5-100 years in federal prison despite the Mayor and City Attorney testifying on his behalf as a law-abiding citizen.

He wasn't allowed to use the medical benefits of marijuana, state law, or all the facts as evidence in the case because of strict federal precedents. The jury only heard part of the story and was issued over 13 pages of more than forty individual jury instructions explaining to them how to deliberate in this case.

Within hours the jury found him guilty of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, two counts of sales to adults under the age of 21 years old, maintaining a drug premises, possession with the intent to distribute.

I also want to clear up one rumor. There is a DIFFERENT man named Charles LEON Lynch who is registered as a sex offender that is NOT Charles CORNELIUS Lynch who is facing federal marijuana charges for operating a medical marijuana dispensary in California.

So that brings me back to the subject title of this note: If you could save a honorable man from going to federal prison, would you?

If you answered yes, this is where you can help make a difference. By law, judges have to read every single correspondence related to sentencing that they receive for each case. So your letter will be read and will play an important role in securing Charlie's freedom.

His lawyers have asked for thousands of letters to come in on his behalf. In a recent federal medical marijuana case (Mickey Martin's), the judge stated that public support both in written form and court supporters helped her give Mickey a compassionate sentence (no time behind bars).

We're hoping that public support can save Charlie from going to prison. Charlie's probation officers has recommended 5 years behind bars to "teach others a lesson" and because that's what other defendents have received in marijuana cases. And I say, 5 years is 5 years too many. This man doesn't deserve to be behind bars for helping patients (like me), he deserves to be honored.

And we all know long prison sentences do not deter others from committing crimes and that sentencing should be based off individual cases not off of what everyone else is getting sentenced to for cases with similar charges.

The personalized letter that you write doesn't have to be long. I've written 5 letters myself, all just one page long with supporting documents attached. It only took me about 20 minutes to an hour to write each letter.

The topic of the letters can be focused on educating the judge about drug policy errors, mandatory minimums, sentencing guidelines, prison life, the benefits of cannabis, the social harm of wasted tax payers' funds, etc. all with a plea for true justice & leniency. Form letters aren't as powerful as personal letters.

Supporters who wish to write a letter of support regarding sentencing should use the Letter salutation "Dear Judge Wu" and then send the letter to:

Reuven Cohen
Federal Public Defender
321 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-4702

For a sample letter and guidelines go to Charlie's website: www.friendsofccl.com. All letters should have professional tone. If you have a hard time figuring out what to say, just pretend that Charlie is one of your loved ones. What would you say to save his life and keep him from going to federal prison.

We often get overwhelmed trying to create positive change because there is so much to do. Writing a letter to Charlie's judge will help make a difference. Here are some other ways you can help make a difference:

1. Throw a Letter writing party. Get your friends, classmates, and others together to help each other write letters. Provide snacks and make it a fun yet productive get-together. Join forces with local chapters of other drug policy groups. Proof read each others' letters.

2. Send Charlie an email. Let him know that you support him and the other casualties of the Federal Government's war against medical marijuana.

3. Donate money. Charlie has been unable to find full time work since the DEA and Local Sheriffs department violently raided his home and business. Charlie is facing bankruptcy and foreclosure of his home. Every little bit will help.

4. Offer Charlie a job. He's a software engineer by trade and lives in San Luis Obispo county. Send an email to Charlie if you would like to receive a copy of his resume for consideration.

5. Share this note with your friends. "Share" it on facebook. Blog it. Post it on myspace. Help get the word out. Very few people know about this case and they more that know, the more that can help. No one can do it all by themselves.

6. Contact the media to tell them about this story and let them know how you feel. A number of sources have taken on the Lynch Saga, namely Reason.tv has done a short documentary on the case and followed the trial with daily updates. Rick Ray Films is currently working on a full blown documentary regarding States Rights and Medical Marijuana. CNN ran a news story on the trial of Charles C. Lynch. Also numerous other News Agencies have run stories on USA vs Lynch. Al Roker has also been in contact with Lynch and wants to do a hour long documentary.

7. Contact your congress people. E-mail, phone, write, and visit your Senators and your House of Representatives' offices.

If you don't know who your House of Representatives Congressional member is go to www.house.gov and put your zip code +4 in the upper left-hand corner. If you don't know who your Senators are go to www.senate.gov. You can even visit your congress member's offices fairly close to your own home because they have satellite offices throughout their districts.

Contacting Congress is vital because laws change in Congress and the only reason why the DEA and federal prosecutors are allowed to do what they're doing is because of a federal law; that law needs to be changed.

8. Pray for Charlie's freedom and for Judge Wu to use divine justice. Also pray for other patients and providers that are being prosecuted and thrown in prison by our Federal Government.

9. Spread the word about Charles Lynch. Talk to family, friends, associates, co-workers, classmates, schoolmates, roommates, lovers, anyone who will listen, etc. Ask them what they think about the situation. If they don't know that much, inform them. Forward this email to everyone on your email list. Repost this on facebook, myspace, craigslist, live journal, blogspot, and any other website or forum you frequent.

10. Learn more about Charlie's case by doing a google search or visiting his website www.friendsofccl.com. Add Charlie as a FB friend. Add Cheryl as a FB. Join the Free Charles Lynch FB group.

11. Join organizations like Americans for Safe Access, Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, CANorml, ect. These organizations are making changes in legislation so people like Charles C. Lynch do not have to suffer at the hands of the Federal Government.

12. Let Barrack Obama's transition team know your vision of the future for Charlie's case, medical marijuana, and drug policies in America.

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