Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog


Marijuana Laws: Federal and California Conflict

Posted on: July 29, 2008 at 12:07 p.m.

It is a widely known fact that the conflict between drug laws in California has created a bit of a headache from time to time on certain L.A. criminal defense matters. The challenge is that there is more than one conflict, one between the state of California and the federal government, another between different parts of California. The law in California allows for medical marijuana; however a recent matter in Los Angeles federal court has heightened the conflict.

A man, Charlie Lynch is charged with distributing over $2 million dollars worth of Marijuana since 2006, some of which to teenagers not yet old enough to drink alcohol. Lynch's defense attorneys would like to present evidence that their client was dispensing doctor-prescribed medical marijuana to sick people in accordance with state law and with the blessing of elected officials in Morro Bay. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that federal drug laws trump those of the state and that the reasons why the drug is distributed are irrelevant. Another wrinkle is that a Federal Drug Administration official may have given the okay for Lynch to distribute Marijuana.

This particular case is being tried by a jury, and this has created some confusion as to the marijuana laws and how they should be approached. While being quested, one juror, an engineer, said he had trouble reconciling how it could be legal to sell marijuana under state law and prohibited by federal law.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," he said. The man was excused from the panel.

Other potential jurors were dismissed after revealing strong feelings on the issue.

"I don't think I'd be a fair juror because I tend to side with the state law," said a young woman from Torrance who told lawyers she had one friend with chronic back pain and another with stomach cancer who had used the drug medicinally.

This lack of clarity has led, and will most likely continue to lead, to quite different decisions in different courts and different locations in California. This means that there will be a race to charge a person, and/or try them, in specific courts in the state. Having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal attorney in marijuana defense and other drug matters may make all the difference.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense







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