A highly anticipated trial involving conflicting marijuana laws got underway Friday in Los Angeles federal court with a prosecutor painting the owner of a Morro Bay medicinal marijuana store as a brazen drug trafficker who sold dope to teenagers and toted around a backpack stuffed with cash, reports the city’s Times. Defense attorneys struggled to provide context for their client’s alleged crimes after being barred by the judge from mentioning the phrase “medical marijuana.” At the center of the case is Charlie Lynch, a 46-year-old businessman from San Luis Obispo County, who opened a facility called Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in the spring of 2006.
Prosecutors contend that Lynch violated federal law by selling $2.1 million worth of marijuana in less than a year, some of it to people “not yet old enough to legally drink.” 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. Some hope the case will reconcile how it could be legal to sell marijuana under state law and prohibited by federal law.