LOS ANGELES (AP) – A federal judge said he is considering a reduced sentence for a medical marijuana seller whose case has become a rallying point, but is bound by the law to impose at least a one-year term.

U.S. District Judge George Wu on Thursday postponed the sentencing of Charles Lynch until June 11, saying he wanted to hear more from both sides.

Lynch, 47, was convicted in August of federal marijuana-related offenses. He was not charged with any state crimes.

He is one of the first in the nation to seek leniency from a judge after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last month that federal agents will now target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws.

However, Holder didn’t say how the new approach would affect pending cases, and federal prosecutors have recommended a five-year prison sentence for Lynch.

Cultivating, using and selling medical pot to authorized patients is allowed under California law, and a dozen other states allow medical use of the drug. But federal law outlaws marijuana cultivation, use and sales.

In front of a courtroom packed with reporters, attorneys and Lynch supporters, Wu listened for more than two hours before asking lawyers to file further arguments.

Wu had already asked prosecutors for written clarification about whether Holder’s statements would affect Lynch. In response, H. Marshall Jarrett, director of the Department of Justice’s executive office of U.S. attorneys, wrote that Lynch’s prosecution was “entirely consistent with department policies as well as public statements made by the attorney general.”

Lynch ran a marijuana dispensary in the Central Coast town of Morro Bay. But Wu noted that Lynch wasn’t being sneaky about what he did, obtaining a business license and allowing frequent inspections. Lynch’s attorney, federal public defender Reuven Cohen, said his client believed he was complying with state law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kowal responded by saying Lynch knew that his actions were illegal under federal law.

Wu might disregard the mandatory minimum five-year sentence for Lynch if defense attorneys can prove their client is eligible under a “safety valve” provision allowing some leniency.

“If I could find a way out, I would,” said Wu, who added he didn’t believe Lynch’s case should have a mandatory minimum sentence.

But Wu said that even if he found in favor of Lynch, he would be required to sentence him to at least one year for one of the guilty counts – distributing marijuana to a minor.

Janice Peters, the mayor of Morro Bay, said Lynch was a good business owner and was welcomed by the community.

“This is a victimless crime,” Peters said in court. “The only victim here is Charles Lynch, who is caught between two laws.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.