Reason TV has a story about Owen Beck, a 17-year-old high school kid from California who got bone cancer and had to get his leg amputated. The medicine Owen was taking was making him very sick and and lost a lot of weight, so his parents decided to try medical marijuana. The marijuana greatly helped Owen, easing his pain and nausea.
The owner of the dispensary, Charlie Lynch, often gave the marijuana to Owen without charging his parents. But the local Sheriff (who doesn't like the fact that medical marijuana is legal in his town and the state of California) called the DEA. They raided the dispensary and arrested Lynch. He's now under house arrest, attached to an extension cord for 2 hours a day, and is facing 100 years in prison.
Owen's parents knew the idea of giving medical marijuana to a 17-year-old strikes many people as scandalous. Local Sheriff Pat Hedges even asserts that allowing medical marijuana is "not in the best interest of a community that prides itself on providing a healthy, family environment."Barack Obama has stated he will not use federal officers to raid dispensaries if he is elected. Will he reverse his stand before the election? Visit Predictify to vote.
But the Becks weren't concerned about what other people thought; they were focused on helping their son. So with a written doctor recommendation in hand, they purchased medical marijuana for their teenage son. The new medication eased Owen's pain and nausea like nothing else had, and the Becks grew fond of Charlie Lynch, who would sometimes refuse payment because, says Steve Beck, "He was just a compassionate kind of a guy."
But one day, Owen's life took another abrupt turn. Federal agents and local sheriff deputies raided Charlie Lynch's dispensary, and seized nearly everything inside, including Owen's medicine. "He had a prescription from a doctor at Stanford, and they took his stuff!" says Debbie Beck. Federal agents cuffed Lynch, and put him behind bars. Even though state and local laws allow for it, medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And because he had clients like Owen who were under age 21, Charlie Lynch faces heightened penalties. In California the average first-degree murder serves 20 years behind bars; Charlie Lynch could face a sentence as long as 100 years in prison.
The trial of Charlie Lynch begins this July.
Raiding California: Medical Marijuana and Minors (Reason TV)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.