Federal Court Hearings on Medical Marijuana Spark Protests in Los Angeles

For Immediate Release

Americans for Safe Access
Contact: 

Kris Hermes 510-681-6361 or Don Duncan in L.A. 323-326-6347

Federal Court Hearings on Medical Marijuana Spark Protests in Los Angeles

Re-trial hearing and possible sentencing to occur on 10/6 in Fresno & 11/4 in LA

LOS ANGELES - A federal court hearing for a re-trial in the
Modesto medical marijuana dispensary case of Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo
Montes will occur TODAY, October 6 at 2pm at 2500 Tulare Street in
Fresno,
CA. If federal District Court Judge Oliver Wanger denies the
defendants' motion for a new trial, a sentencing hearing will directly
follow. Because of their conviction on charges of "continuing criminal
enterprise," both Scarmazzo and Montes face an additional 20 years in
prison for providing medical marijuana to patients, activity which is
legal under state law.

Also TODAY, hundreds of people will gather at 11am in front of
the Los Angeles federal courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street for a lively
protest, calling for a re-trial of Charles Lynch, the medical marijuana
dispensary operator from San Luis Obispo recently convicted on federal
charges. A hearing for a re-trial in Lynch's case will occur on
November 4, and if denied he will be sentenced on November 24. Lynch
faces 20 years to life in prison for his role in providing
state-sanctioned medical marijuana to patients.

All federal defendants mentioned above are seeking to be re-tried based
on alleged juror misconduct during their trials.

Fresno Event

What:
Hearing for a re-trial and possible sentencing of medical
marijuana providers Luke Scarmazzo & Ricardo Montes

When: Monday, October 6 at 2pm

Where:
Fresno federal courthouse at 2500 Tulare Street,
Courtroom 3

Los Angeles Event

What: Hundreds of people protesting the conviction of Charles
Lynch and demanding a new trial
When: Monday, October 6 at 11am
Where: Los Angeles federal courthouse (downtown) at 312 N.
Spring Street

Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes were indicted after the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided their medical marijuana
dispensary California Healthcare Collective (CHC) on September 27,
2006. The federal raid on CHC occurred after a 15-month investigation
by the DEA and the Modesto Police Department. After failing to shut
down the down CHC through state court, the City of Modesto worked with
the DEA to federally indict nine people associated with CHC and thereby
deny them protections afforded under state law. All but Scarmazzo and
Montes took plea bargains for differing sentences of up to a year in
prison, whereas Scarmazzo and Montes were convicted by jury on May 15,
2008 and now face twenty years to life.

Charles Lynch ran a city-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensary in
Morro Bay, CA for almost a year before Central Coast Compassionate
Caregivers (CCCC) was raided by the DEA and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff
on March 27, 2007. After Lynch re-opened CCCC with the blessing of his
landlord and Morro Bay city officials, the DEA threatened his landlord
with asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution. As a result, CCCC
closed its doors on May 16, 2007. It wasn't until July 17, 2007 that
Lynch was indicted on multiple federal charges and ultimately convicted
by jury on August 8, 2008.

Because of the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Raich,
federal defendants are prevented from using medical evidence or state
law to defend themselves. As a result, all five federal trials that
have occurred since then ended in convictions. Such odds have forced
numerous other federal defendants to accept plea bargains with many
still spending years in prison. The use of federal resources to
investigate, raid, prosecute and imprison medical marijuana patients
and providers has prompted several Mayors and City Councils in
California to call for Congressional oversight hearings. Also, on
August 25, 2008, State Attorney General Jerry Brown issued medical
marijuana guidelines, recognizing the legality of dispensaries under
state law and calling for an end to federal interference in California.

For more information:
Charles C. Lynch: http://www.friendsofccl.com/

Luke Scarmazzo & Ricardo Montes:
http://www.medicalmarijuanaofamerica.com/content/view/220/1/

Fact Sheet on DEA Interference in State Law:
http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/dea_escalation.pdf

 

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With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

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