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Now Playing at Reason.tv: Raiding California—Drew Carey on Medical Marijuana and Minors

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Should medical marijuana be kept from minors at all costs? Why is it that pharmacists can dispense amphetamines without getting busted, but legal operators who dispense medical marijuana face prison time? Why do armed federal agents persist in raiding California?

With its sun, surf and small town atmosphere, California's San Louis Obispo County is a good place to grow up. Seventeen-year-old Owen Beck played football and soccer for a local high school, but one day his thoughts abruptly turned away from sports and school. Doctors told Owen he had bone cancer, and would have to begin chemotherapy right away.

The young athlete suffered another blow—doctors would have to amputate his leg to try to keep the cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy attacked Owen's cancer and his body, leaving him bald, gaunt, and vomiting the food he needed to recover. The amputation introduced Owen to a bizarre, new agony called phantom pain, and although doctors gave him powerful medication, nothing helped.

But might a new kind of pharmacy offer new hope? A medical marijuana dispensary had recently opened in the nearby city of Morro Bay. More than a decade earlier, California voters legalized medical marijuana and Morro Bay's mayor and Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the dispensary, and its owner Charlie Lynch.

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."

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.

Note: To embed this video on your website and for supporting materials, including links to previous videos and articles and research about medical marijuana and drug policy, go here.

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  1. I’m thinking I can’t understand it due to my (lack of) age, but what’s with the hysteria surrounding marijuana?

  2. Medical Marijuana, is there anything it can’t treat?

  3. Would a marijuana prescription help me cope with living in a Police State?

  4. That’s Drew Carey? Wow.

  5. I guess he’s let himself go (even moreso) since getting married.

  6. Sherriff Pat Hedges: pious vulture of the law.

  7. Sheriff*, never could spell that word.

  8. Hysteria really is the right word for it.

  9. 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.”

    Torturing children is okay, though.

    What the fuck is wrong with these people? They probably don’t want the kid to get prescription opiates, either, because he might get addicted.

  10. It seems as though Reefer Madness is, in all reality, not in the domain of those using, but rather those with the neo-Prohibitionist attitude about it.

    Actually, no… alcohol has far fewer medicinal purposes than marijuana (outside of tinctures, which, oddly enough, is one way medical marijuana is prescribed).

  11. ART POG,

    I’d be happy to explain.

    Back in the 1930’s there was this newfangled type of music known as Jazz. Ir was the gangster rap of its day; it was performed by black artists and older whites were horrified to catch their children listening to it.

    Many Jazz musicians smoked marijuana. Some whites did too.

    Fearful that blacks were getting white women high on marijuana and then having sex with them, there was a small but vocal movement spearheaded by a fellow named Anslinger to have it outlawed.

    Anslinger lied (“The AMA supports us”) and race baited (“When a colored man smokes a joint he thinks he is as good as a white man”) until the stuff was outlawed, and he was given a cushy federal job to purge the stuff from the U.S.

    Thanks to Anslinger’s unstinting efforts, the U.S. was freed of the scourge of Jazz and interracial sex.

  12. This incident, like so many others, just reinforces the reality that cops and soldiers are bullies and cowards. They are not heroes.

  13. that cops and soldiers are bullies and cowards. They are not heroes.

    My opinion of the DEA and the overuse of executive force aside, if you painted “uniformed” people with any broader a brush, I’d be forced to think you were a troll. Oh, wait, I already think you’re a troll.

  14. This is a great complementary piece to the snarky earlier video Carey did, where he inhales the aroma at a dispensary and claims it smells like freedom.

    This story puts about as human a face as possible on the issue. The kid is articulate, handsome, and well-adjusted. His parents come across as the kind of parents most of us want to be: loving, understanding, and willing to explore legitimate treatment options to ease their son’s suffering. The dispensary owner is tragically fucked.

    The problem is that drug warriors don’t see these kinds of stories as credible evidence that their worldview is horribly flawed. Even the expert opinions of doctors and medical organizations around the world don’t hold any weight with these tools. They only respond to the most basic kinds of conventions: Drugs are bad, mmm-kay…

    I’m at a loss. What competing conventions can we use to trump the bullshit?

  15. Why the comparison with amphetamines? Taken orally, amphetamines have negligible rates of abuse. Given the meth scaremongering, it’s still kind of a wonder that they’re available, but the way you introduce them could easily be taken to imply that the situation should be reversed, that marijuana should be available and amphetamines not; surely they should both be available.

  16. The important thing, because it pisses the other side off so much, is to keep hammering at the racist history and proven racist results of the tax and spend drugwar. They wanted to paint libertarians as racists this election via those idiotic Lew Rockwell newsletters, so this is a fair counterstrike, IMO.

    http://www.fff.org/comment/com0303e.asp

    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/racepris.htm and

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/preston9.html

    are all useful URLs to cause drug warrior hysteria, because they need to face the facts: The tax & spend drug war looks racist in the real world.
    JMR

  17. Sheriff Pat Hedges should be impeached and/or defeated at the polls.

    This is a disgrace.

    Calling Bob Barr: Here’s a chance to prove your commitment to Federalism and the integrity of your own campaign. This is a ready-made case where the federal government is overstepping its authority. (Police Powers are reserved to the states.) Stand up for the 10th amendment. Stand up for liberty. Stand up for the rights of people who are suffering and just want to be left alone to fight their own struggle against cancer.

  18. Calling Bob Barr? He’s one of the main architects of this environment of fear and persecution, but Libertarians are so enraptured by the thought of getting a couple of headlines via Barr that they pretend he isn’t.

  19. ART-P.O.G.

    Everybody-let us examine Art’s logic. Because I paint uniformed thugs of Caesar with a braod brush, not uniformed people in general, he would be “forced” to think that I am a troll. Are my posts violating the non-initiation of force principle? Am I coercing Art?

    I guess to prove one’s bona fides, one can not be too outspoken or too forceful or too passionate in denouncing those who choose to make their life’s work sucking the scrotum of stalin, lest one be considered a troll. Again, there is not one scintilla of evidence to support the proposition that I am a troll. In fact, the claim is frivolous.

  20. Nice misdirection, liberty mike. In reality, I don’t care about your “bona fides”. I wasn’t the first person to suggest that you were a “subtle troll”. And your conclusion is laughable.

    Regards,
    “A uniformed thug of Caesar”

  21. 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.

    Compassionate conservatism my ass.

    Some GOP lickspittle is going to claim

    “But the DEA is just enforcing the law. This isn’t GWB’s fault”.

    There are none so blind …

  22. ART POG-

    Your response is laughable. Again, you have failed of offer any evidence to support your position. Just because you are not the only one to suggest that I am a troll does not vindicate your position. What evidence did the other person advance to support the aforesaid suggestion? Absolutely none.

    So, if you think that I am a troll, then for whom or for what cause? Is there some glaring inconsistency that you observed in the philosophic underpinnigs of my posts? Is ther some post that magically revealed that I am some kind of big brother lover?

  23. liberty mike

    I did 20 years in the US military. I’m a bit proud of that. I’m glad to know your opinion of me. Allow me to return the favor.

    Any questions?

  24. And, my county government is wasting *my* tax dollars appealing a lawsuit they lost with the state of CA over issuing medical marijuana ID cards.

    The gist of the appeal is: “…but it’s illegal!” Hey, if it’s good enough for a third-rate blog comment it must be good enough for government work.

  25. “Troll” has multiple meanings, but there are two that immediately come to mind. 1) A person whose entire purpose is to antagonize others,usually for his or her own amusement, 2) A person whose misanthropic pathologies and probable personality disorders cause the person to express him or herself in an antagonistic or hyperbolic manner.

    More than a few people here think you fit the second category. And the fact is that I’m serving in the military and have several friends and relatives who have served or are currently serving. Not only causes your slander to offend me, but I am also in the position to state that your broad mischaracterization of military service members is reprehensible.

  26. This incident, like so many others, just reinforces the reality that most cops and some soldiers are bullies and cowards. They are not all heroes.

    There FIFY. I don’t get the hero worship bestowed on police, firefighters and military personnel in general, they are volunteers and should know that the job was dangerous when they took it. True heroes are made when a truly heroic act is performed at the risk of ones own life.

    Police and firefighters have pretty good gigs and are very well compensated or there wouldn’t be such a long line to get in. Compared to the military, they are a bunch of wanna-be’s in the hero department.

    For example I witnessed the “bravery” of the police and sheriff departments during the Columbine massacre. The SWAT teams were hiding behind firetrucks and waiting the situation out rather than putting their own lives on the line for those kids and teachers.

    IMHO military personnel are not all heroes, but the ones that perform selfless acts are. I have personally met many soldiers that would fit that description, but no police or firefighters.

    /served 8 years USAR and Active Duty Army

  27. Thank you, zig zag man. If somebody wants to argue that Lynndie (sp?) England or Sheriff Pat Hedges or even most DEA agents are PsOS, you’ll get no argument with me, but I’ve known many essentially decent people in the military. To me trying to say that all cops or troops are like this or like that is definitely more ugly collectivism.

  28. I wouldn’t call liberty mike a troll. “Shrill fucking retard”, perhaps.

  29. Is San Louis Obispo’s liberal Democratic Congressperson Lois Capps sympathetic to her district’s medical marijuana users?

    If so, she should become a co-owner of the dispensary and personally re-open it for business and personally sell marijuana to provoke the feds.

    Get a standing member of congress charged, and it will make for good publicity and an interesting showdown. Or, if they decline to go after her, highlight that the DEA goes after easy targets.

  30. I’m sorry, but if you lace ’em up for Team State (police, DEA, military, whatever), you’re an agent of an authoritarian entity. Within the framework you can be more or less of an authoritarian agent, but you are what you are.

  31. I guess some of the soldier boys have been offended. They don’t seem to mind taking the fruit of other people’s labor and they don’t seem to mind the unconstitutional wars waged by their bosses and brethern. Killing little boys and girls. Refusing to abide by the constitution. Sounds like pretty misanthropic to me.

  32. My bad; definitely a troll.

  33. Again, what help did any military person give to Ed and ELaine Brown? Where were the so called decent people in the military when the branch davidians were under siege? How about all those good soldier boys? DId they help Randy Weaver? What have the heroes in uniform done to stop the IRS and the DEA? Oh, wait. They have been too busy being “brave” by attacking grave threats to our national security like Grenada, Panama and Iraq.

  34. J sub D- Laced them up for Leviathan. Wow. That is something of which to be proud-being a a two bit parasite. I bet you took the money too, knowing that it was forcibly taken from some person who actually made or produced something.

  35. Hey J sub D- What are you gonna do for Charlie Lynch? What are you and all the other “decent” military folk gonna do about the DEA?

  36. Dude, you’re just parodying libertarians now, right? Right? Right?

  37. J sub D and Art P.O.G.- You guys are the collectivists. You volunteered to lick the boots of authority. You got paid only because your masters saw fit to rob folks of their productive efforts. YOu chose to be part of the authoritarian police state. Maybe that makes you a little uncomfortable, cause it strikes a little too close to home.

  38. Damn, you must really hate that income tax, liberty mike. But what really makes me “a little uncomfortable” is your sort of “libertarian”.

  39. To stop those trollers 1-2-3,
    Here’s a fresh new way that’s trouble-free,
    It’s got Paul Anka’s guarantee…
    (Lisa: “Guarantee void in Tennessee.”)

    Just don’t look! Just don’t look!
    Just don’t look! Just don’t look!
    Just don’t look! Just don’t look!

  40. Why dont the DEA get coccaine and meth smugglers that are ruining people’s lives? Not marijuana that is improving life for a lot of people out there in the world. You can legally get Adderal at a pharmacy which basically is 80% meth, but you cant go to a a place to obtain medical marijuana? You tell me who’s crazy here? DEA GO AWAY!!!! gET THE CRACK DEALERS THAT SELLS CRACK TO THE 13 YEAR OLD BOY THAT JUST ROBBED AND STOLE FROM SOME1 TO GET THAT DRUG. DEA GO AWAY! HELP PATIENTS NOT BUST EM.

  41. Art P.O.G.-

    Art doesn’t like the sort of libertarian that doesn’t do the military hero worship thing. He doesn’t like the type of libertarian that makes observations that threaten his very identity-thus, he reacts like an angry child-how dare any body question his devotion to stars and stripes.

  42. INCREDIBLE!!!
    I am a canadian and…I look at this story…
    I REALLY think that there is a SPIRITUAL PROBLEM in USA…
    I mean…How people can tolerate a situation like that?…
    I think your ”neocon” government is VERY SICK.
    Your political class is COMPLETELY BLIND and suffer from a SEVERE COLLECTIVE DEMENTIA!
    SHAME ON THEM!!!

  43. I think the majority of the people that have written drug policy in the US are not motivated rationally. That was certainly the case with Anslinger and apparently the case with the guy behind CASA.

  44. On the legal question, let parents decide what is medically best for their childrem. On the medical question, there is a good reason to not give newly approved psychopharmaceuticals to minors. New drugs haven’t been on the market long enough to document all their side effects. On top of that young brain works a bit differently from a middle aged brain, increasing the uncertainty in a drug’s effects on minors. When you add these two sources of uncertainty, giving new drugs to minors is too risky for me to recommend. Of course, individual factors (ie. the patient is in dire health or everything else failed to work) can overide this general rule of thumb.

  45. J Blass-

    Good post, though you should be careful as there are folks here who may accuse you of being a troll for being too passionate or for unnecessarily heating up the rhetoric.

  46. A small correction that means a lot to those who live there: The name of the county and the town is “San Luis Obispo,” Spanish for “St. Louis the Bishop.” There is no “O” in “Luis.” But if you pronounce it as in Spanish (loo-EES) you will be marked by the locals as a tourist or a newbie. English-speaking locals pronounce that word as “Lewis.” Also, the locals rarely use “Obispo” (locally pronounced oh-BIS-poe) when speaking about their town: it is almost invariably “San Luis,” unless they’re reciting a mailing address or speaking in a context where the correct full name is necessary.

    Yes, I was born there, so I have a “home town” interest in people getting it right. 🙂

  47. On the medical question, there is a good reason to not give newly approved psychopharmaceuticals to minors.

    Well, he is 17, so the variation is probably minuscule.

    And a balance is always struck in these situations, between the likelihood of harm and the probability of relief. In this case, I think its perfectly rational to strike that balance on the side of providing treatment.

  48. Ok I have taken the time to watch the video and read everyone one of these comments on this subject and though I may be young and I may not completely understand every word that Art-P.O.G, liberty mike have voiced on this subject but i know first hand that just because you put on a uniform does not make you a hero my grandpa served in two wars that have changed this country and he was a hero. Now I’m not saying your not a hero Art-P.O.G because I do not know you or anything you have done, but there are many cops and soldiers that are bullies simply because our government has seen fit to give them a uniform and a gun they feel like they can run anything, anyway they want to. In this incident yes the cops are being bullies and cowards just because things were not going the way Sheriff Pat Hedges wanted them to go so he is putting an innocent man in jail and a young man through pain. All over one big TIT FIT that some pussy with a uniform and gun had.

  49. i think it’s interesting that the data from government studies show that teen use doesn’t increase in states where medical marijuana is legal. also, how come no one talks about the government providing marijuana to four patients for over 30 years now?!?!

  50. “They don’t seem to mind taking the fruit of other people’s labor and they don’t seem to mind the unconstitutional wars waged by their bosses and brethern.”

    Would that “fruit of other people’s labor” have anything to do with the relative safety and security you enjoy as an American? Or the free education you received? The fact that people come to your neighborhood regularly and collect garbage? The flush of your toilet that carries waste away from your house, poperty, and water source? You don’t have to love every cop, firefighter, social worker, prosecutor, judge, park ranger, librarian, or traffic-signal-maintenance worker in the nation, or agree with every last one of the ideas, policies, personalities, missions, and previous acts of the entire group of public servants, but acting as though you do not also benefit from the labors of other people is laughable.

    As public servants’ “not seeming to mind,” did it occur to you that it’s not always a bad thing to put one’s own personal beliefs aside for the moment and act according to what might be in the best interest of people who are not you? I teach high school, and I don’t pretend I’m not just another agent of the Man, but I decided to put my “hey, screw everybody but me” attitude to bed because it’s more important to help young people learn to make good decisions based on reason, not rhetoric, so that we eventually have SOME HOPE AT ALL of living in a society that is not as screwed-up as it is now. If that means I have to kowtow to No Child Left Behind, well, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

    Just like everywhere else, in public service, there’s a mix of jerks, heroes, bullies with guns, idealogues, poseurs, and every other kind of person you can think of, and just like every other large organization, some of their actions are wrongheaded, persecutory, or unfair, and sometimes they actually help people. It’s both inaccurate and destructive to A) believe that, because you are not in agreement with people or policies, you neither benefit from nor have any obligations toward public works, and B)assume that people who are affiliated with public works are all in cahoots together and represent a united front for you to attack.

  51. “I decided to put my “hey, screw everybody but me” attitude to bed”
    Probably not the best site to say that. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

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