Complying with California's medical marijuana laws is not enough to keep people like Charlie Lynch out of federal hands. After the 2007 DEA raid on Lynch's medical marijuana dispensary, he now faces a 366-day jail sentence. Lynch is currently free pending appeal, and his lawyers are confident that they will be able to reduce the sentence even further. But this brings up important issues regarding the autonomy of state's rights, especially in cases like this, where federal and state laws do not agree. Who holds responsibility here? Should Charlie Lynch be held accountable for following one set of laws that inevitably breaks another? What about the lawmakers? Lynch captures the essence of this debate in a statement aimed at the federal government: "They don't come down on the state legislatures that gave us these laws. They don't come down on the city officials that let me operate the dispensary. They come down on the little guy. Me."
The Obama administration claims that it will no longer raid dispensaries in any of the 13 states that allow medical marijuana, but they failed to do anything about Lynch's sentencing. This issue will most likely continue to present itself in shades of gray until some kind of social and legal understanding is reached between state and federal legislatures, and those who benefit from the medicinal properties of this plant.