California, San Luis Obispo

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, San Luis Obispo

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:12 am

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Mon, Jul. 17, 2006

Supervisors to address pot, needles

They’ll consider a policy for medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas and plan to vote on a proposed needle exchange program

The San Luis Opispo Tribune
By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com


Every city in San Luis Obispo County has confronted the medical marijuana issue over the past year, and on Tuesday it will be the Board of Supervisors’ turn.

The supervisors’ decision would create policy for unincorporated areas such as Templeton, where some in the community ignited in furor in May after Dylan Hyde proposed opening a marijuana dispensary.

The Templeton Area Advisory Group opposes a marijuana dispensary in its community.

"There is concern about loitering, illegal sales, safety of neighboring businesses and matters of public nuisance," the advisory group wrote to the supervisors. The panel makes recommendations to county officials on land-use and other issues.

Though California voters legalized marijuana for medicinal use in 1996, many law enforcement agencies and neighbors of proposed dispensaries around the state have fought against permitting the them.

County planning commissioners recommend that supervisors designate marijuana dispensaries in the same land-use category as pharmacies.

They would be allowed in commercial service and retail zones throughout unincorporated areas but prohibited within 1,000 feet of any school, recreation center or youth center.

The dispensaries would sell marijuana to qualified card holders who receive prescriptions from their physicians.

The board is set to vote on whether county staff should draft the ordinance, which would return for final approval.

Also on Tuesday, the supervisors plan to vote on creating a needle exchange program and a program that allows pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription.

In March, health and law enforcement officials were not able to agree on a plan, and the supervisors gave them three more months.

Health officials wanted to create a program that would reduce disease transmission, and law enforcement didn’t want to encourage drug use.

The proposed needle exchange program would operate in two sites and allow users to exchange up to 30 needles at a time.

Supervisors also could vote to have the county participate in a program created by state lawmakers, which became law in January 2005, that allows pharmacies to sell up to 10 clean needles without a prescription.

The state law does not require someone to bring the pharmacist a used needle to get a clean needle — but the proposed county ordinance would.

County health officer Greg Thomas said adding a one-for-one exchange was a compromise with local law enforcement.

"We are going beyond (the state law) responding to law enforcement concern that we want to reduce the number of syringes that might be discarded in unsafe places," Thomas said.

But requiring an exchange changes the law’s intention by limiting access to clean needles, said Martha Saly, hepatitis C project manager for the Center for Health Improvement, a national health advocacy group based in Sacramento.

"Limiting the ability to get syringes in the long run is not going to make a difference in disease transmission," she said.

San Luis Obispo County has not had a needle exchange program, and going from nothing to something is a positive step forward, Saly noted.

Only one pharmacist in the county has expressed interest in participating in the program, Thomas said.

Go to sanluisobispo.com to read staff reports on the proposed needle exchange program and medical marijuana dispensaries and to share your comments on this story

County staff report on needle exchange proposal (PDF) http://www.sanluisobispo.com/multimedia ... change.pdf

County staff report on medical marijuana dispensary proposal (2 MB PDF) http://www.sanluisobispo.com/multimedia ... ijuana.pdf

Last edited by palmspringsbum on Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Marijuana dispensaries could be allowed in unincorporated ar

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:23 am

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Wed, Jul. 19, 2006



Marijuana dispensaries could be allowed in unincorporated areas

The San Luis Obispo Tribune
By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com

<table class=posttable align=right width=225><tr><td class=postcap><a class=postlink href=http://www.sanluisobispo.com/multimedia/sanluisobispo/archive/marijuana.pdf title="http://www.sanluisobispo.com/multimedia/sanluisobispo/archive/marijuana.pdf" target=_blank>Read county staff report on medical marijuana dispensary (pdf)</a></td></tr></table>The county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to direct staff to draft an ordinance that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.

The proposed ordinance would require dispensaries to get a special business license, include certain safety and security provisions and prohibit them from being located within 1,000 feet of any school, recreation center or youth center.

"I really don’t think we are aiding and abetting illegal drug use if we take the proper approach to making this available," said Supervisor James Patterson, who supported the item.

Supervisors Harry Ovitt and Jerry Lenthall dissented.

The dispensaries would sell marijuana to qualified cardholders who receive prescriptions from their physicians.

Several citizens spoke out for and against allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the county. Opponents’ concerns included encouraging drug use and violating federal law that designates marijuana an illegal substance.

Proponents lauded the medical benefits of marijuana for managing terminal illnesses and chronic pain.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:45 pm

The Monterey Herald wrote:Posted on Wed, Jul. 19, 2006



News briefs from California's Central Coast

The Monterey Herald
Associated Press


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Supervisors have approved adding medical marijuana dispensaries to the county's land use ordinance.

Tuesday's 3-2 vote does not, however, make it easy to open such a facility. Nonprofit organizations that want to operate a dispensary in an unincorporated part of the county will have to apply for a $4,000 minor use permit and go through a public hearing process that can take up to eight months.

Supervisors required the dispensaries to operate only within commercial services or commercial retail zoning. Dispensaries are also prohibited from operating within 1,000 feet of schools or youth and recreation centers.

Despite a conflict between state and federal law, Supervisor Jim Patterson said he feels county officials have a duty to be compassionate.

"I think that Californians have spoken to the fact that this should be available," Patterson said. "I don't think that we'd be aiding and abetting drug use. We owe to those suffering or in chronic pain to make their life better."

Californians passed Proposition 215 in 1996, legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. However, the federal government still lists marijuana as a controlled substance and continues to prosecute users and suppliers under federal drug laws.

---
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Marijuana cards to be considered

Postby budman » Sat Jul 29, 2006 12:58 pm

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Fri, Jul. 28, 2006

Marijuana cards to be considered

If the program is approved, SLO County would become the 21st in the state to issue ID cards to medical-marijuana users


By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com
The San Luis Obispo Tribune

In its second public hearing on medical marijuana in three weeks, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is scheduled to consider an identification card program for patients who legally use the drug.

If the board approves the plan, San Luis Obispo County will become the 21st in California to issue the cards. Neighboring Santa Barbara and Kern counties already do.

Tuesday’s discussion comes two weeks after supervisors directed staff to draft an ordinance regulating the sale and distribution of medical marijuana in unincorporated areas.

ID program advocates, such as Aaron Smith of Safe Access Now, a lobbying group, say the IDs help law-enforcement officers distinguish legitimate users and protect patients and their medical-marijuana providers.

California voters approved Proposition 215 — also called the Compassionate Use Act — in 1996, legalizing marijuana for medical use.

In 2003, the Legislature passed a law that requires the Department of Health Services to create a statewide medical-marijuana patient identification program.

That law requires counties to issue cards to qualified medical-marijuana patients and providers. Those names go into an online registry that law enforcement officers can use to verify an ID card’s validity.

The county has limited discretion over the program. Public health officials recommend that the county charge $75 to $100 per card, limit the number of plants per patient to six mature or 12 immature plants, and limit marijuana providers’ patient load to 10.

County counsel recommends that supervisors approve the implementation of an ID-card program to comply with state law.

Assistant District Attorney Dan Hilford suggested in a memo to the supervisors that they wait for an opinion expected from the state attorney general on whether government employees who issue medical-marijuana patient ID cards are helping someone violate federal law.

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Supervisors give go-ahead to medical marijuana ID program

Postby budman » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:10 am

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Wed, Aug. 02, 2006

Supervisors give go-ahead to medical marijuana ID program

SLO County will be the 21st in California to issue the cards, which will cost between $75 and $100


August 2, 2006
The San Luis Obispo Tribune
By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com


County staff report on the medical marijuana ID card program (3MB PDF)

Toni Paradis of Atascadero will no longer have to make the 500-mile round-trip to Oakland to renew her disabled son’s medical marijuana identification card because a local program will begin soon.

The Board of Supervisors directed the Public Health Department on Tuesday in a 3-2 vote to implement a medical marijuana ID program as mandated by state law. Supervisors Jerry Lenthall and Harry Ovitt dissented.

Paradis said the ID program validates and protects legitimate medical marijuana users such as her son, 26-year-old Matthew Green, who is permanently disabled with spastic quadriplegia. Green uses marijuana to control his movements, improve his appetite and sleep, Paradis said.

"I don’t want people exploiting the system so they can smoke pot," she said.

A 2003 state law requires counties to issue cards to qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers. Those names then go into an online registry that law enforcement officers can use to verify an ID card’s validity.

San Luis Obispo County will be the 21st in California to issue the cards. The decision came two weeks after supervisors directed staff to draft an ordinance regulating the sale and distribution of medical marijuana in unincorporated areas.

"Since we do have medical marijuana dispensaries in San Luis Obispo County, and we do have people authorized to use medical marijuana, it only makes sense that we make this program available," Supervisor James Patterson said.

There is one dispensary in the county, currently operating in Morro Bay.

The supervisors discussed at length the discrepancies between state and federal law regarding marijuana use. Federal law prohibits the use or sale of marijuana. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 — also known as the Compassionate Use Act — legalizing marijuana for medical use.

The county will recoup the costs for the program by charging between $75 and $100 for the ID cards. The program limits the amount of marijuana a person can have at one time to 8 ounces, six mature plants or 12 immature plants.

Lenthall, who with Ovitt voted against creating a local ID program, suggested waiting six more months to see if the California Attorney General’s Office came out with an official opinion on whether government employees who issue medical marijuana patient ID cards are helping someone violate federal law.

County counsel advised the supervisors they should follow current state law.

"If you have a discrepancy between federal and state law, the only thing you can do is take the compassionate route," Supervisor Shirley Bianchi said.

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County Approves Medical Marijuana ID Program

Postby budman » Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:08 pm

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:
News Briefs from California's Central Coast

August 10, 2006
The San Luis Obispo Tribune



SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) - County officials have approved a medical marijuana identification card program.

With a 3-2 vote Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, San Luis Obispo County becomes the 22nd in the state to implement such a program.

The vote follows another two weeks ago that allowed the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within unincorporated areas of the county.

Those wishing to obtain an ID card will have to show a doctor's letter at the Health Department, where their picture will be taken and sent to state officials.

The state will issue the card and then send it back to the Health Department. Cards must be renewed annually.

The fee for the card will likely be between $75 and $100. Medi-Cal marijuana patients will only have to pay 50 percent of the card's cost. The county estimates it will issue about 600 cards a year.

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Medical marijuana ID program to be finalized

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:06 am

The Santa Maria Times wrote:Medical marijuana ID program to be finalized

By April Charlton/Staff Writer
The Santa Maria Times
October 29, 2006

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors plans to take the last step in establishing a medical-marijuana identification-card program when it meets next month.

In August, San Luis Obispo became the 22nd county in California to adopt an identification-card program for qualified medicinal users of the drug.

However, when the supervisors voted 3-2 to implement the program, Public Health Department staff hadn't yet calculated a fee for issuance of the cards. In the split vote, Supervisors Harry Ovitt and Jerry Lenthall dissented.

But on Nov. 14, Health Department staff plans to ask the supervisors to amend the county fee schedule, adding a new $78 fee for the issuance of the identification cards.

The fee would be attached to each application that is processed at the Health Department, but Medi-Cal beneficiaries would only pay half the fee.

Proposition 215, which was passed by voters statewide in 1996 and legalizes marijuana use for medicinal purposes, specifies that Medi-Cal patients can only be charged

50 percent of fees for cards.

Because Medi-Cal patients will only pay half of the fee, it will cost the county $6,500 to implement the program, according to Dr. Greg Thomas, county Public Health administrator.

Thomas estimates the county will issue about 600 identification cards a year.

To obtain an identification card, individuals must possess a letter of recommendation from a licensed physician stating that they are prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes, Thomas said.

County residents wishing to obtain an ID card will show their recommendation letter at the Health Department, where their picture will be taken digitally and then sent to state officials for further processing.

The state issues the card and then sends it back to the Health Department, which notifies the applicant to come get his or her card. The cards must be renewed annually or anytime that a patient changes his or her caregiver, Thomas said.

Senate Bill 420, passed in 2003, mandates that every county in California implement an identification-card program and begin issuing cards to qualified patients and caregivers.

The intent of the bill is to help law enforcement by creating a form of identification that is official and uniform throughout the state.

Under the county's identification-card program, patients and caregivers can possess eight ounces of marijuana at any time, six mature marijuana plants and 12 immature plants.

In July, the Board of Supervisors also voted 3-2 to amend the county's land-use ordinance allowing the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries.

April Charlton can be reached at 489-4206, Ext. 5016, or acharlton@santamariatimes.com.

Oct. 29, 2006

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Supervisors OK county medical marijuana card

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:08 pm

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Thu, Nov. 16, 2006

Supervisors OK county medical marijuana card

<table class=posttable width=200 align=right><tr><td class=postcap align=center>County staff report
on proposed ID card
for medical marijuana users.
</td></tr></table>By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com
The San Luis Obispo Tribune

The county has a medical marijuana identification card program, now that the county Board of Supervisors has given its final OK.

A 2003 state law requires counties to issue cards to qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers. Their names then go into an online registry that law enforcement officers can use to verify an ID card’s validity.

Supervisors voted unanimously without any discussion to create an ordinance that establishes a $78 fee for the ID program, which will pay for the program. People with Medi-Cal benefits will be charged $39 for an ID card.

The program will begin Dec. 14 through the county Public Health Department.

The program limits the amount of marijuana a person can have at one time to 8 ounces, six mature plants or 12 immature plants.

San Luis Obispo County is the 21st in California to issue the cards. Neighboring Santa Barbara and Kern counties already do.

San Luis Obispo County currently has one marijuana dispensary operating in Morro Bay.

Before moving forward with the program this summer, supervisors discussed at length the discrepancies between state and federal law regarding marijuana use. Federal law prohibits the use or sale of marijuana. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 — also known as the Compassionate Use Act — legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Following a public hearing on Aug. 1, supervisors directed the public health officials in a 3-2 vote to implement a medical marijuana ID program as mandated by state law.

Supervisors Jerry Lenthall and Harry Ovitt dissented then, saying it violated federal law.

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Marijuana ID cards to cost $78

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:32 pm

The Santa Maria Times wrote:Marijuana ID cards to cost $78

By April Charlton/Staff Writer
The Santa Maria Times
November 17, 2006


San Luis Obispo County's qualified medical marijuana patients and caregivers will pay $78 for a medical marijuana identification card if they choose to sign up for the state-mandated program.

With a unanimous vote Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved establishing the fee to process applications for medical marijuana identification cards.

The supervisors approved the item during a public hearing that took less than two minutes to complete, after a hearing on other business that extended from about 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“I'm here to request that you approve this,” Jeff Hamm, County Health Agency director, told an exhausted five supervisors in what was also the extent of his staff presentation.

There also wasn't any public comment offered on the item, and the supervisors didn't discuss the issue that was their last hearing of the day and began shortly before 7 p.m.

The new $78 fee will be attached to every identification card application that's processed at the County Public Health Department in San Luis Obispo. However, Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are also medical marijuana patients will only pay half the fee.

It will cost about $6,500 to implement the identification card program, in part, because the county will have to absorb the costs of Medi-Cal patients who apply for a card, according to Hamm.

Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, not only legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but it also stipulated that Medi-Cal patients can only be charged 50 percent of card fees.

California legislators also passed Senate Bill 420 in 2003, which mandates every county in the state to implement an identification card program and begin issuing cards to qualified patients and caregivers.

The intent of the bill is to help law enforcement by creating a form of identification that is official and uniform throughout the state, something that wasn't addressed in Prop. 215.

The Heath Department estimates the county will issue about 600 cards during the first year of the program.

Individuals wishing to apply for an identification card must possess a letter of recommendation from a licensed physician stating they're prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the Health Department.

After the Health Department processes an application, which includes the applicant having his or her picture taken, it's sent to the state for further processing and entry into a statewide database that law enforcement agencies can access.

April Charlton can be reached at 489-4206,

Ext. 5016, or acharlton@santamariatimes.com.

Nov. 17, 2006

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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Approved for SLO County

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:09 pm

KSBY wrote:
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Approved for SLO County

<span class=postbigbold>Under certain conditions, dispensaries may open in unincorporated areas</span>

By: Andrew Masuda
KSBY
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Currently, the only medical marijuana dispensary in San Luis Obispo County is in the City of Morro Bay. After today, that could change.

Today, the San Luis Obispo County Supervisors approved an item that would allow dispensaries -- under certain conditions -- to open in unincorporated areas like Templeton, Los Osos or Nipomo. Applicants must first receive a minor use permit from the county. Dispensaries must also be at least 1,000 feet -- or a little more than three football fields -- away from schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries.

Other restrictions are, marijuana cannot be grown or consumed at a dispensary and employees must be over the age of 21.

After over a year of working to get to this point, medical marijuana supporters say these are all restrictions they can live with.

"Matthew was a near-drowning victim when he was 2 years old at a daycare center," says Toni Paradis.

Paradis is talking about her son, Matthew Green, now a 26-year-old quadraplegic. She's driven to Oakland and Los Angeles to legally obtain medical marijuana for him.

"It just gives him a real quality of life," Paradis says. "He feels real good about himself. He's not in pain. He feels more secure and confident in himself."

The pair -- and a handful of other medical marijuana supporters -- witnessed county supervisors pave the way for more medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the county, with certain restrictions.

"How could we allow needle exchange and say no to this?" asks supervisor Katcho Achadjian.

Achadjian, James Patterson and Bruce Gibson voted for the item. Chairman Jerry Lenthall, a former police officer, cast the sole "no" vote. He cited the will of his constituents and recent problems at other dispensaries around the state as two of his many reasons.

"I don't think this is the route that cities and counties should be going as far as medical marijuana [is concerned]," says Lenthall. "If it's a medical issue, I think that there are other ways it can be addressed.

After addressing county officials about the benefits of medical marijuana for over a year, the Atascadero mother hopes people don't take advantage of the supervisors' decision.

"We're hoping that people won't exploit this situation for their own benefit, and let people who really need it benefit from it," says Paradis.

The amendment takes effect in 30 days and paves the way for another dispensary to open in the county. In fact, one man hopes to open one in Templeton within 60 days.

Tonight, the Pismo Beach City Council will also consider banning medical marijuana dispensaries in city limits. A similar ban is set to expire on April 1 of this year. City leaders have voiced concerns about the potential for criminal activity and conflicts between federal and state law.

Similar measures have been passed in Paso Robles, Grover Beach, Carpinteria, Buellton, Lompoc and Santa Maria.

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County takes next step toward medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:02 pm

The Lompoc Record wrote:
County takes next step toward medical marijuana

By April Charlton
Senior Staff Writer
The Lompoc Record
February 7, 2007

Because the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors allows a needle exchange program in the county, 4th District Supervisor Katcho Achadjian said he couldn't deny establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.

“I never thought I'd be supporting this ... (but) the turning point for me was how could we allow a needle exchange (program) and not allow this,” Achadjian said during Tuesday's supervisors meeting, where the board voted 3-1 to amend the inland land use ordinance to allow the operation of dispensaries.

Achadjian made the motion to support the land use change - the last step in the amendment process in the inland unincorporated areas - and noted “this is probably not expected of me.”

Third District Supervisor Jerry Lenthall was the lone dissenting vote. He said he couldn't support the motion because his constituents in Avila Beach and Edna Valley don't want dispensaries in their neighborhoods.

“I feel I'm not doing my job if I don't honor their requests,” Lenthall said prior to the vote. “I just can't in good conscience support this.”

Because land use standards are different in the county's unincorporated Coastal Zone areas, staff will bring back another land use amendment specific to the Coastal Zone at a later date.

In July 2006, the supervisors voted 3-2 to add medical marijuana dispensaries to the county's land use ordinance, designating dispensaries as a general retail use.

At that time, the board also approved only allowing dispensaries in commercial retail and commercial services zoning areas.

County planner Bill Robeson told the supervisors that dispensaries - or cannabis clubs, as they're commonly called - won't be allowed to operate within central business districts.

“Central business districts are usually the downtowns of communities or the future downtowns ... with an expectation of high pedestrian traffic,” he said.

The board also limited where dispensaries could operate to within 1,000 feet of schools and youth and recreation centers in July. On Tuesday, the board also voted to include parks, playgrounds and libraries.

Additionally, they voted to increase the minimum age of dispensary employees from 18 to 21.

“They could be 18 and seniors in high school, but we allow them to work at a dispensary,” said Achadjian, who initiated the age increase.

The supervisors are also requiring applicants looking to open a dispensary apply for a minor use permit, at a cost of $4,000, and go through the public hearing process.

Californians passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, although federal authorities continue to arrest and prosecute users under federal laws.

February 7, 2007

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County OKs medical marijuana dispensaries

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:48 am

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:Posted on Wed, Feb. 07, 2007
The San Luis Obispo Tribune


County OKs medical marijuana dispensaries


By Sarah Arnquist
sarnquist@thetribunenews.com

The Board of Supervisors gave its final approval Tuesday to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the county’s unincorporated inland areas.

Dispensaries cannot be in a downtown business area or within 1,000 feet of any school, library, playground, park or youth recreation area under the ordinance that takes effect in 30 days.

The dispensaries must get a special business license to sell marijuana to qualified identification-card holders who receive prescriptions from their physicians.

They must also follow specific safety and security provisions, and cannot cultivate marijuana on the premises. All employees must be 21 or older.

Coastal zones of the county are excluded from this ordinance pending approval from the state Coastal Commission, which has the final say on land-use laws in those areas.

The board vote was 3-1, with Chairman Jerry Lenthall dissenting and Supervisor Harry Ovitt absent.

"The people do not want medical marijuana dispensaries in the district I represent," Lenthall said. His district includes most of San Luis Obispo and the coast from Avila Beach to Grover Beach.

Supervisor Jim Patterson supported the ordinance, saying it addresses the public’s safety concerns while providing access to medical marijuana patients who need it.

"I think we’ve factored in ample public participation," he said.

San Luis Obispo County has one marijuana dispensary now operating in Morro Bay.

The county began a medical marijuana identification card program in January, becoming the 21st county in California to do so.

A 2003 state law requires counties to issue cards to qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers. Those names then go into an online registry that law enforcement officers can use to verify an ID card’s validity.

Before approving the program last summer, supervisors discussed at length the discrepancies between state and federal law regarding marijuana use. Federal law forbids all use or sale of marijuana.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215 — also known as the Compassionate Use Act — legalizing marijuana for medical use.

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AG resident in medical marijuana battle

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:13 pm

The Santa Maria Times wrote:AG resident in medical marijuana battle

The Santa Maria Times
September 5, 2007
By Hector Trujillo/Staff Writer


Arroyo Grande resident Charles Lynch is embroiled in a legal battle with federal prosecutors over his medical marijuana dispensary.

Lynch has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that include distributing marijuana to minors, aiding and abetting illegal marijuana distribution to minors and maintaining premises that were involved with illegal drugs.

“I hope he gets a full pardon and a full apology from those persecuting him,” said Ken Parson of Grover Beach. “There are a lot of people suffering because they can't get safe access (to medical marijuana).

“I knew (Lynch) ran a very tight ship and security was very serious for him, so this totally upset me,” he added. “The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department knew they could not touch him themselves.”

Parson said his comments about the Sheriff's Department were based on the experience he had with law enforcement agencies this year.

Repeated phone calls to the San Luis Obispo County's Sheriff's Department regarding circumstances surrounding Lynch's arrest went unreturned.

Earlier this year, Parson was involved in a situation where Grover Beach police confiscated his medical marijuana and refused to return it to him, claiming it violated federal law.

Among Parson's claims was that his property and its use were allowed under Proposition 215.

Prop. 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act, was passed by California voters in 1996 to protect seriously and terminally ill patients from criminal penalties for using marijuana medically.

Only people with their doctor's recommendation to use marijuana in medical treatment are covered by Prop. 215.

A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge later ruled the Police Department had to return the marijuana or pay a $5,900 fine.

“My case sent the message out there that all law enforcement in California has to comply with Prop. 215,” Parson added.

In 2003, Senate Bill 420 was preventing arrests - not just prosecution - of medical marijuana prescription card-holding individuals for possession, transportation, delivery or cultivation up to six mature plants per patient.

On Jan. 9, 2006, Lynch opened the Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary in Atascadero in compliance with state and local ordinances after a city-issued moratorium against such dispensaries expired in November 2005.

Three months later, the Atascadero City Council voted 4-1 to establish an application process, ordering Lynch to shut down his business and apply for a permit retroactively.

He obtained a temporary restraining order against the city of Atascadero, which allowed the dispensary to stay open until Feb. 17 pending a court decision on the matter.

But rather than fight a prolonged legal battle against the city, Lynch moved his dispensary to Morro Bay after receiving a business license from that city.

The dispensary was raided by federal officers in March, and federal agents arrested Lynch at his Arroyo Grande residence on July 17. He was then booked at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles and released on $400,000 bail.

Neither Lynch nor his attorney would comment on the status of the case because, they said, it is still open.

“We have been seeing an increase in local law enforcement pushing for federal assistance in conducting raids and shutting down dispensaries,” said Kris Hermes, a representative of Safe Access Now, which works on behalf of medical marijuana use.

“This is a clear effort to skirt state law because local officials have to uphold state law,” he said.

Lynch faces charges that have minimum sentencing guidelines of five years each. Supporters of Lynch have set up the Friends of Charles Lynch Fund to help with his legal costs.

“Local officials know they would have a difficult time bringing these cases into state court,” Hermes added. “In state court, you can bring in medical evidence but not in federal court.

“All they have to show in federal court is that marijuana is present and that it was passed from one hand to another,” Hermes said.

On June 6, 2005, in the case of Gonzales vs. Raich, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 that the federal government can still ban possession of the drug in states that have eliminated sanctions for its use in treating symptoms of illness.

Three days later, California Chief Assistant Attorney General Robert Anderson sent a bulletin to all California law enforcement agencies stating the Supreme Court decision “imposes no mandatory duty on California peace officers to enforce the federal Controlled Substance Act against individuals whose possession, use or cultivation of marijuana is lawful under California law.”

“In exercising discretion to make a marijuana-related arrest, state and local officers should recognize that under the Compassionate Use Act, the unlawful use or possession of marijuana remains illegal under California law,” the bulletin said.

In 1993, the city of San Luis Obispo adopted a resolution supporting the use of medical marijuana and requested the county, California Legislature and the president restore cannabis and marijuana preparations to the list of available medicines that can be prescribed by licensed physicians and to provide and ensure a safe and affordable supply of cannabis for medical use.

September 5, 2007
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Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:14 pm

SanLuisObispo.com wrote:Posted on Wed, Dec. 26, 2007

Top local stories of the year:

<span class=postbigbold>Pot shop raid reflects legal divide ( No. 8 )</span>

SanLuisObispo.com
December 26, 2007
<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/central_coast_compassion_caregivers.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><span class=postbold>Sheriff’s Deputy John Franklin removes bags and containers of medical marijuana in March after search warrants were served at the Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay.</span></td></tr></table>Nick Wilson


The owner of a Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary that was shut down in May continues to fight the U.S. Attorney’s Office over charges that he grew and sold cannabis for profit and distributed it to minors.

Charles Lynch of Arroyo Grande pleaded not guilty to charges in August. His trial is scheduled for the spring, he said.

In March, San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s officials and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided Charles Lynch’s dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, at 780 Monterey Ave.

The business was the county’s only medical marijuana dispensary when it was closed down permanently after federal authorities contacted his landlord, Bob Davis. They told Davis his property could be seized if he continued renting it for dispensary use.

The case pits state law — which allows marijuana distribution for authorized medical purposes — against federal laws that prohibit marijuana sales.

Lynch’s case reflects a widespread crackdown on medical marijuana by federal agents and a willingness among some local law enforcement officials to assist federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents, said attorney Louis Koory, who represents Lynch.

Koory has represented numerous local clients in medical marijuana cases.

“Citizens are being set up to use tax dollars to fight the very laws that they passed,” Koory said. “The raid would not have happened if not for the Sheriff’s (Department) calling the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.”

Koory is also representing former dispensary client Elaine McKellips in a pending claim that accuses the Sheriff’s Department of circumventing state law by inviting federal drug enforcement officials to close the business.

Warren Jensen, chief deputy county counsel, has said the claim was probably an “overstatement of the law.”

Now residents must drive to Santa Barbara or Santa Cruz for medical marijuana, Koory said.

Plans for a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Templeton are scheduled to be heard by the county Planning Commission on Jan. 10.

Commissioners were deadlocked this year over whether the business would violate a county law stating dispensaries must be 1,000 feet from parks and playgrounds.

The proposed dispensary’s main entrance to the front of the park’s play area is 1,004 feet, but only 925 feet separate the park from the proposed dispensary site in Templeton.

At least one victory for medical marijuana was won over the past year when Grover Beach police returned 20 grams of marijuana to Ken Parson in January, Koory said.

Parson was arrested in Grover Beach for possession of marijuana. But Koory argued that Parson’s prescription was allowed under state law.

Grover Beach police were required to return the marijuana to Parsons or pay a $5,900 fee.
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Abram's plea

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:30 pm

New Times SLO wrote:
Abram's plea

<span class=postbigbold>After Abram Baxter signed a deal with prosecutors, he thought his legal troubles were behind him--then he was told it didn't count
</span>
New Times SLO
BY KAI BEECH

Date: 03/19/2008

On March 20, after almost a year of legal battles, Abram Baxter is due to head back to the San Luis Obispo County Superior Courthouse to face a felony marijuana charge.

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=300 src=bin/baxter_abram.jpg alt="Abram Baxter"></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><span class=postbold><center>NEW LIFE DELAYED</center>
Abram Baxter accepted a misdemeanor plea agreement related to marijuana charges and was ready to move on to a new life, but was told he has to return to court to face the original felony charges.</span></td></tr></table>Yet, as the former doorman for Morro Bay's Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary, Baxter isn't any run-of-the-mill defendant.

Baxter allegedly sold 12 ounces of marijuana to an undercover police officer on July 12, 2006, but he wasn't arrested until local sheriff's deputies and federal agents raided the dispensary on March 29, 2007, nine months later. The dispensary later closed for good.

As the only person arrested on the day of the raid, Abram Baxter--amateur mixed martial arts fighter, musician, and father of a toddler--made headlines and served as the very public face of a very public clash between state and local laws and between differing views about whether medicine can be grown in a garden.

If Baxter isn't any run-of-the-mill suspect, maybe that's why his story doesn't follow the high school civics book model of the way the criminal justice system is supposed to work.

The charge that Baxter is set to face on March 20 is one that, just a few months prior, he was told was over and done with. He'd signed a plea agreement with the District Attorney's office and said he walked out the courthouse door that day relieved to have everything behind him, particularly since he'd exhausted all of his savings on attorney's fees to end the matter.

Then he received the notice that the plea bargain he signed along with his attorney Greg Jacobson and local judge Ginger Garret was being withdrawn, nearly three months after it was offered.

"I couldn't believe it," said Baxter, who at the time was training and promoting for Combat USA--a minor-league mixed martial arts organization based out of Green Bay, Wisc.

"It knocked me off my feet," he said.

After signing the deal, he said, he felt "very relieved to finally move on with my life."

Now he faces a very different prospect.

"Now, I might have to do some jail time," he said. "It would be awful to be away from my family and job. All I really care about is my daughter."

<span class=postbigbold>'A mistake'</span>

During a Nov. 13, 2007, pre-preliminary hearing, Baxter accepted a plea bargain that reduced his felony marijuana charge to a misdemeanor.

No one disputes those facts. The deal was offered, and he accepted it. He signed on the dotted line, as did his attorney, and the entire matter was handed over to the judge, who also signed the deal.

Yet the day after the 27-year-old Los Osos resident signed the paperwork that would have sentenced him to 30 days informal probation, the deputy district attorney handling the case, David Pomeroy, filed a written motion to retract the deal. After months of delays, the judge agreed with prosecutors and set aside the plea agreement last month, on Feb. 19.

"I made a mistake," Pomeroy said in an interview, explaining why Baxter was offered the misdemeanor plea bargain. "I realized the mistake about one minute after he accepted the plea. I then immediately brought it to the court's attention and filed a motion to set aside the plea based upon the mistake."

In his telling, Pomeroy tried to get the judge to set aside the plea immediately, while Baxter's attorney was still in court, although that was after Baxter said he walked out the doors considering his legal troubles to be behind him. The judge declined, however, and required a written motion.

According to Pomeroy, who has been working in the judicial system for the past 30 years, he confused Abram Baxter's case with another one involving a 20-year-old named Donald Mark Baxter, Jr. He also said it marked the first such mistake of his long career.

Although the two cases were similar on the surface (both were felony marijuana charges involving men named Baxter), they were substantially different when it came down to it. Abram was being charged with allegedly selling marijuana. Donald was allegedly involved in a small medical marijuana grow operation.

Pomeroy said that he never would have offered the deal to Abram, whose alleged crime he considers more serious than Donald's.

Abram, for his part, doesn't buy the idea that Pomeroy had him confused with someone else.

"I've been going to court for a year and there's always television stations and reporters waiting for me. It's such a prolific case. How did they mix me up with someone else?" Abram asked.

Instead, he believes: "Justice is not being served."

Donald Mark Baxter, Jr., basically declined comment, but did say that he was offered the same plea Pomeroy offered Abram. He said he turned it down because he feels he didn't do anything illegal.

But for Abram, the case started anew. And that change has come at a financial cost.

Abram said he used up his savings to pay his initial attorney, but at some time after the plea mix-up, the SLO attorney stopped representing him.

Now Abram is being represented by public defender Matthew Guerrero who, coincidentally, is also representing Donald.

The public defender said that Abram did not misrepresent himself to get the initial plea.

"I think it's disappointing for [Abram] not to get the best of his bargain," Guerrero said. "He relied upon the plea to start another life in another state. But medical marijuana is viewed unfavorably by the courts."

Abram's initial attorney did not respond to repeated calls and requests for comment.

Donald is also scheduled to be in a courtroom for a hearing on his case on March 20.

<span class=postbigbold>Double jeopardy?</span>

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution puts it like this: "nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." More commonly, this particular legal protection is known as double jeopardy.

Black's law dictionary puts the protections offered by the concept of double jeopardy in simple terms: A person "shall not be twice tried for the same crime."

On the face of it, the act of offering a plea agreement to someone, then retracting it, may seem like a violation. Pomeroy, however, said that the constitutional protection exists only after a person has been sentenced.

Local criminal defense attorney Chris Casciola said that's technically true, but also noted that in his nearly three decades of experience, he's never seen a situation like this one.

"It's an extremely unusual situation in the criminal justice arena," he said. "I would suspect [Abram] would have [the] right to appeal the ruling.

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Jail for Selling Medical Marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:40 pm

ABC News wrote:Jail for Selling Medical Marijuana

<span class=postbigbold>Charlie Lynch Faces Jail Even Though Medical Marijuana Is Allowed Under California Law</span>

ABC News
By JOHN STOSSEL and ANDREW SULLIVAN
March 10, 2009—


<table class=posttable align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimage src=bin\lynch_charles.jpg alt="Charles Lynch"></td></tr></table>If the voters in your state say it's OK to do something, is it?

Apparently not.

Charlie Lynch learned that the hard way, when federal authorities raided his home and small business in southern California in March 2007.

"I hear the banging of my front door," Lynch recalled. "I opened the door and about 10 to 15 agents with shields, bullet-proof vests, guns, masks, they came barreling in."

Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized 30 pounds of marijuana from Lynch's business. The action wasn't a surprise to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges, who had been investigating Lynch for about a year.

What tipped the sheriff off to Lynch's operation? It may have been the ribbon-cutting ceremony that Lynch held when he started selling marijuana.

<span class=postbigbold>'It Is Nothing About Getting High'</span>

Lynch wasn't dealing drugs in back alleys. He was selling medical marijuana. He had applied for a business license, joined the Chamber of Commerce, consulted with attorneys and even called the DEA before opening his medical marijuana dispensary. Thirteen states, including California, allow patients to use marijuana for medicinal use, and Lynch was selling marijuana to patients whose doctors had recommended the drug. Hundreds of dispensaries across California have helped thousands of patients to access medical marijuana.

Singer Melissa Etheridge, now 47, was one of those patients. When she was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago, she underwent intensive rounds of chemo.

"It's like putting acid in your body," Etheridge said of the treatment. "You lose your hair, you have absolutely no strength."

With the chemo treatments came the side effects, and the drugs that doctors prescribed Melissa to treat them caused more side effects.

"Take the one drug for pain, it has the side effect of, it makes you constipated," Etheridge said. "So then you have to take the drug that helps you not be constipated. But that drug, that's going to make you get diarrhea, and so you have to take another drug to combat the side effects of that."

Etheridge chose to use marijuana instead, and found that the drug helped her.

"When it comes to the medicinal use of this herb, it is nothing about getting high," Etheridge said. "You're not getting high. You are trying to get to a place of normal."

<span class=postbigbold>The Benefits of Medical Marijuana</span>

Medical marijuana also helped teenager Owen Beck, of Morro Bay, Calif., when his leg was amputated to stop the spread of a cancerous tumor. Beck, like Etheridge, found that chemo's effects were devastating and the traditional medications didn't help.

"It destroys your appetite," Beck said of the chemo, "and whatever you can eat, you throw up."

His mother Debbie Beck said, "All those pills that we had, nothing was helping him."

So, Beck tried medical marijuana, purchased from the dispensary run by Lynch.

"With the marijuana, you know, I could do what I needed to do during the day and just not be in pain," Beck said. "I could be comfortable."

Beck and his parents were thankful for the service that Lynch provided.

"I've always thought Charlie Lynch was, you know, the nicest guy in the world," Beck said. "He would always treat us with a lot of respect."

<span class=postbigbold>Hauled Into Court</span>

But not everyone liked Lynch's dispensary. Hedges had spoken out in public meetings against medical marijuana dispensaries. After Lynch opened his business, Hedges sent officers to stake out the facility.

"They sent in undercover sheriff's deputies to go encourage Charlie to break the federal law," Lynch's lawyer, John Littrell, said. "In every case, what they found was that his employees always verified doctor's recommendations. No one could manage to get anybody, Charlie or anyone that Charlie was working with, to dispense marijuana in a way that violated state law."

After a year, the sheriff handed information over to the federal government's DEA that Lynch had been selling marijuana. Even though California allows medical marijuana, federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic -- the same as heroin. Under federal law, Lynch was no different from a common drug dealer.

"Marijuana, under federal law, is a more serious narcotic than crack cocaine," said Reuven Cohen, another of Lynch's lawyers.

Lynch was hauled into federal court, which meant that his attorneys could not even mention the state law that permits the use of medical marijuana. They also weren't allowed to mention that Lynch's dispensary had helped people like Beck.

<span class=postbigbold>Facing 100 Years in Prison</span>

"It's complete bulls---, but it's the bulls--- that we live in," Cohen said.

Lynch was convicted and faces up to 100 years in federal prison.

"It just seems so unfair what they've done to me," Lynch said. "They put the fear of 'gov,' I call that instead of the fear of God, fear of government into people."

The DEA has raided five other medical marijuana dispensaries in California and Nevada this year, despite the various laws that legalized the substance for medical use at the state level.

But the Obama administration recently announced it would stop raiding marijuana dispensaries in states that allow medical marijuana, which is no help to Lynch. His sentencing is now set for March 23.

"They don't come down on the state legislatures that gave us these laws," Lynch said. "They don't come down on the city officials that let me operate the dispensary. They come down on the little guy. Me."


<center><small>Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures</small></center>
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Is it reefer madness?

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:37 pm

The Chicago Tribune wrote:chicagotribune.com

Is it reefer madness?

<span class=postbigbold>White House moves to revisit the medicinal marijuana issue</span>

Clarence Page

March 11, 2009

When Charles Lynch asked local officials for permission to sell a herbal medicine in the town of Morro Bay on the central coast of California, they allowed his request—even though the "medicine" was marijuana.

That's because marijuana prescribed by a doctor has been legal in California since 1996. A dozen other states have passed similar laws. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and New Hampshire are among about 10 states that have been debating similar measures.

So Lynch applied for a business license, joined the local chamber of commerce, talked to lawyers and even called the federal Drug Enforcement Administration before opening his medical marijuana dispensary with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Unfortunately for Charlie Lynch, none of this prevented him from being arrested in March 2007 when federal authorities raided his home and small business. That's because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Gonzales vs. Raich in 2005 that on the issue of medical marijuana, federal law trumps the states.

"Today's decision," crowed President George W. Bush's drug czar John Walters back then, "marks the end of medical marijuana as a political issue."

Well, not quite. President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, has announced that the Justice Department will stop raiding marijuana dispensaries in California and other states that allow medical marijuana.

But that doesn't help Lynch, whose sentencing is set for March 23. Putting the brakes on medical marijuana raids is only one small step toward a sensible drug policy after years of Bush backpedaling from it.

Obama likes to multitask. Faced with a long list of thorny issues, he's decided to take them on all at once while his honeymoon lasts. While he's at it, he needs to modernize federal policy on the medicinal use of marijuana. Stopping the raids in states where it's legal is good for starters. He also needs to lift what has amounted to a ban on scientific research of marijuana and push to change federal law that equates marijuana with heroin.

That's right. Marijuana has been classified as a "schedule I" narcotic, meaning it has no medical value, since 1971. Keep in mind that that's the same category as heroin. And as if that were not goofy enough, that would mean marijuana is more dangerous than crack cocaine, a "schedule II" drug that no one in the sane world describes as less dangerous than pot.

Yet that's the kind of thinking that gave a green light for the DEA, for whom there is far more useful work to do, to terrorize growers, providers, caregivers and patients with hundreds of commando-style raids. At least 90 major raids have been conducted by DEA agents in California, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization of medicinal marijuana

The Bush administration justified the federal crackdown against the medicinal use of marijuana as a way to stop people from abusing the drug—as if some people don't abuse legally prescribed drugs.

In fact, the same rationale was used to justify alcohol prohibition a century ago. That didn't work out so well, either.

Walters, like the drug czars before him, argued that the law must rely on scientific research, "not popular opinion." Yet, 10 years after a study commissioned by President Bill Clinton's administration found marijuana had medical value, the Bush experts said that's not enough.

Days before Obama's inauguration the DEA denied an application by professor Lyle Craker, who has been fighting in and out of court for eight years, to obtain a license to conduct DEA-approved research to measure the medicinal value of marijuana in a way that could lead to federal approval.

President Obama recently reversed much of what has been called the Bush administration's "war against science." He needs to turn around the war against medicinal marijuana too.

<small>
cptime@aol.com

<center>Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune</center>
</small>
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More complaints filed against Hedges

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:58 pm

<small>The following article was posted on February 18th, 2009, in the New Times - Volume 23, Issue 29</small>


More complaints filed against Hedges
BY KYLIE MENDONCA

The mother of convicted marijuana dispensary operator Charles Lynch is the latest of his supporters to file a complaint against the SLO County Sheriff, Patrick Hedges, for his role in bringing down the dispensary. Lynch’s mother, Bodine Jones, filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department demanding an investigation into Hedges’ actions against the dispensary and Charles Lynch. The complaint has been forwarded to the State Attorney General’s office, the County Board of Supervisors, and the local District Attorney. A Los Angeles medical marijuana activist has also filed similar complaints.

Jones alleges in her complaint that Hedges failed to uphold California medical marijuana laws or to protect Lynch, who was presumably operating under California law. Jones further claims that Lynch was “sexually assaulted” when federal agents held him naked at gunpoint, during the March 29 raid on his home in 2007.

Jones’ letter was received by Hedges in late January. Undersheriff Steve Bolts responded Feb. 3, reiterating the department’s position that no state or federal laws were broken during the course of the Lynch investigation. Sheriffs’ spokesman Rob Bryn said they forwarded the complaint to the Attorney General for consideration.

“By forwarding these particular alleged issues to the Attorney General’s office,” Bryn said, “we remove any potential conflict of interest that may arise locally.”

Jones did receive a response from the AG, which said the Department of Justice lacks resources to review all local matters; they said the matter should be handled locally.

Jones’ son is due to be sentenced March 23 in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. He was convicted on five federal charges related to growing and distributing marijuana in accordance with state law. Charles Lynch faces at least five years in prison.

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Arroyo Grande medical marijuana dispenser heads protest

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:52 pm

The San Luis Obispo Tribune wrote:<small>Posted on Mon, Feb. 23, 2009</small>

Arroyo Grande medical marijuana dispenser heads Los Angeles protest

Leslie Parrilla
The San Luis Obispo Tribune

LOS ANGELES — The Arroyo Grande man in the middle of a protest of the federal government’s prosecution of medical marijuana purveyors stood center stage Monday at a rally in downtown Los Angeles.

Charles Lynch, who ran the Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary called Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, wore a crown of imitation marijuana in crucifixion-like style and an orange prison jumpsuit reading “Gotbusted Penitentiary.” He chanted in unison with a fiery crowd of about 60 supporters from throughout the state clustered on a corner outside the federal courthouse.

Lynch was expected to be sentenced Monday at the courthouse, but the hearing was postponed until March 23.

He was convicted Aug. 5 of operating the dispensary and faces from five to 100 years in prison, he said. Federal prosecutors charged Lynch with distributing marijuana to minors, maintaining a drug-involved premises and aiding and abetting. He was out of jail Monday on $400,000 bond.

Horns blared from a bustle of traffic rounding the corner at Temple and North Main streets as Lynch’s public defenders castigated the federal government for its prosecution of their client.

The case pits conflicting state and federal laws against each other — voter-approved state law allows medical marijuana, yet a federal law restricts the drug.

“The question now is whether or not Charlie is going to be crucified before history changes,” said public defender Reuven Cohen, one of Lynch’s attorneys.

Protesters called on President Barack Obama to require the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to acknowledge state law.

“I’m really hoping that some of this gets out to Obama,” said Zita Worley, 38, of Beaumont, a member of Americans For Safe Access, an organization that promotes legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

Worley wants Obama to fill the top DEA slot with someone who will stop the raids on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Federal and state authorities raided the Morro Bay co-operative March 29, 2007. Abe Baxter, a security officer there, was also arrested for allegedly selling the drug outside the dispensary, according to a crime report. Baxter is being tried locally by state officials and is scheduled to be in court March 3 for a pretrial hearing, according to court records.

Lynch’s mother, Bodine Jones, came from New Mexico to garner support for her son. She rallied the crowd by telling supporters Monday that, “I’m not going to lose a child to the federal government.”

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, released a statement Monday urging federal authorities to suspend enforcement actions against law-abiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

A mention of Sheriff Pat Hedges, who did not attend the rally but whose department was involved in investigating Lynch’s dispensary, received a prolonged “Boo” from the group that pumped fluorescent green signs reading “Free Lynch” and a misspelled “Marijana Cures Epilepsy.”

Sheriff’s officials have defended their investigation, saying that they were looking into state and federal violations that posed a danger to the public and left them in the middle of conflicting laws. They assert that their job is not to ignore violations on any level, if they learn a law has been broken.

The peaceful protest Monday remained low-key, prompting even a wave from a Los Angeles Police Department officer driving by. Several officers stood nearby the crowd throughout the rally as one organizer advised people not to medicate while there.

Gary Gall of Cambria said he was driving through the area and decided to stop and support Lynch. His wife was suffering from cancer and used medical marijuana instead of a cocktail of drugs that did nothing to help her, he said.

“I hope the president will stand by his word and not throw people in jail in states that have voted for it,” said Gall, referring to legalizing the drug for medical use.

Lynch also called on the president to “Make a change today” and encouraged supporters to “Let your voice be heard. Let your e-mails be sent.”

When asked if he would open a dispensary again, Lynch said, “I don’t know if I could say, knowing what I know now, that I would do it again.”

<hr class=postrule><center><small>© 2009 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.</small></center>
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100 Years in Prison for a Drug Crime

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:05 pm

The Salem News wrote:<small>Salem-News.com (Feb-21-2009 18:06)</small>

100 Years in Prison for a Drug Crime Committed by Someone Else

Cheryl Aichele Special to Salem-News.com

<span class=postbigbold>Letter in Support of California's medical marijuana dispensary owner Charles Lynch.</span>


<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/lynch_charles-and-storefront.jpg alt="Charles Lynch" width=300></td></tr></table>(LOS ANGELES) - I'm a medical marijuana patient in LA who suffers from chronic pain due to a work-related repetitive strain injury.

This summer I sat through the trial of Charles C. Lynch after seeing Drew Carey's "Raiding California" Reason.tv episode for the Drew Carey Project. What I witnessed in that federal courtroom changed my life.

David Nott, President of Reason Foundation calls it "a grotesque miscarriage of justice" and he couldn't be closer to the truth of the matter.

White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro reacted to new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids at medical cannabis collectives in California, saying he expects President Obama to end that policy when a new DEA Administrator is seated.

"The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind," Shapiro said.

Charlie faces up to 100 years in federal prison:
  • Even though he followed all his "Medical Marijuana Dispensary" business license requirements, city regulations, county restrictions, and State laws.
  • Even though, he called the DEA and asked about opening a medical cannabis dispensary in California and they said "It's up to the cities and counties to decide how to handle that [medical marijuana dispensary] matter".
  • Even though the Morro Bay Mayor, Janice Peters, and City Attorney, Rob Schultz, testified they never received one complaint about Lynch, his employees, patients or dispensary and each testified to Lynch's law-abiding nature.
  • Even though, the only person accused of wrong-doing on the state level has legally declared Charlie had nothing to do with any alleged state violations.
I rely on people medical cannabis dispensers, like Charlie to get safe access to medical cannabis. If the federal government has its way, I will be forced to buy my cannabis on the black market. That's not only degrading, it's dangerous.

That's exactly what San Luis Obispo County Sheriff, Pat Hedges, did to over 2,000 of Charlie's qualified medical cannabis patients by shutting down the only medical cannabis dispensary in the county. My heart goes out to them. Not all patients can grow their own cannabis. I'm not expect to manufacture my own vicidin.

Attached is a pdf. presskit my friend David and I put together. You do NOT have to read it from beginning to end. Just read the introduction and click on anything else you want to see. It has everything anyone would need to know about this case. It's navigational too. The content page is linked. If you click on the title of a document on the content page, the pdf will bring you to that document. And if you click on the blue "Friends of CCL" logo in the upper-left hand corner of each page, the pdf will bring you back to the content page.

We are having a PEACEFUL protest (HOPE for Cannabis CHANGE) on Monday February 23, 2009 at Noon on the Corner of Temple & Main St. In front of the Federal Courthouse sign on the corner. The address is 312 NORTH Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90012. I'm hoping you can help us promote this event and cover the story.

Al Roker interviewed Lynch for a MSNBC showed called "An Hour on Marijuana" scheduled to air in the coming weeks. In addition, John Stossel from ABC's 20/20 interviewed Lynch and his Federal Public Defenders for an episode called "Bullsh*t in America".

Hopeful for Cannabis Change,Cheryl Aichele

To learn more about the case against Charles Lynch, visit www.friendsofccl.com/.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:22 pm

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Shift on Marijuana Policy Delays Sentencing

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:30 pm

The New York Times wrote:March 24, 2009

Shift on Marijuana Policy Delays Sentencing

The New York Times
By REBECCA CATHCART


LOS ANGELES — A federal judge here Monday postponed the sentencing of a man convicted of running a medical marijuana dispensary and asked the Department of Justice to clarify its revised position on such cases.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said last week that federal authorities would not seek to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries if the operations complied with state and local laws, a departure from the Bush administration policy that federal narcotics laws held sway. California is one of 13 states that allow the growth and sales of medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

“The judge said this statement raises more questions than it answers,” said Reuven Cohen, a lawyer for the defendant, Charles Lynch. “He said he needed an explanation, and he needed it from the Department of Justice, not the local prosecutor.”

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Los Angeles, said that he could not comment on the specifics of the request by Judge George H. Wu, but that prosecutors “do believe that Mr. Lynch violated state law.”

Last August, a jury convicted Mr. Lynch on five counts related to running a dispensary and selling medical marijuana to customers under 21, considered minors under a federal statute that prohibits the sale of marijuana and other narcotics to minors. Mr. Lynch faces a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison.

The case has been widely followed by medical marijuana advocates since Mr. Lynch was arrested after a 2007 raid on his dispensary in Morro Bay, Calif.

Video from the local news in 2006 shows Mr. Lynch celebrating the dispensary’s opening. He is seen shaking hands with the mayor and flanked by local business leaders holding a banner emblazoned with “Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce.”

Supporters of Mr. Lynch came to the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, but Judge Wu’s announcement was not cause for relief, Mr. Cohen said.

“He’s scared,” Mr. Cohen said of Mr. Lynch. “He’s an engineer with no criminal record. In a million years, he never thought that this is where he’d be.”

Mr. Cohen said Mr. Lynch “has not violated any state laws.”

Prosecutors convicted Mr. Lynch under federal statutes last summer. The issue of state law was not raised in the trial, Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Mrozek said Monday that Mr. Lynch had violated state laws by selling marijuana for use by minors. “But this case involves a violation of federal law,” Mr. Mrozek said, “and that’s really all that matters.”

Mr. Mrozek said both sides would have a conference with Judge Wu on Friday, but prosecutors may not have a filing from the Department of Justice by then. The sentencing hearing has been postponed until April 30.


<small>Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company</small>

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How Will New Fed Guidelines Affect Charles Lynch?

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:03 pm

The Salem News wrote:Oct-19-2009 12:33

How Will New Fed Guidelines on Medical Marijuana Affect Charles C. Lynch?

Salem-News.com


(LOS ANGELES) - The Associated Press broke a story late Sunday that the U.S. Department of Justice will be issuing new guidelines Monday to U.S. Attorneys regarding an official policy toward medical marijuana.

The Department of Justice posted the memorandum regarding those guidelines on their blog early Monday morning.

Advocates wonder if and how this will affect federal defendants who were raided, arrested, charged and convicted under the Bush Administration, like Charles C. Lynch.

Lynch was the last Federal medical cannabis defendant to be convicted under the Bush Administration, on August 5, 2008. He was also the first medical cannabis patient/provider to face sentencing under the Obama Administration for his operation of Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay, California.

In June 2009, Federal Judge, George H. Wu, had tentatively sentenced Lynch to a year and a day in federal prison for 5 felony charges all related to providing medical cannabis from his storefront dispensing collective. Wu said he would write his decision within a week, making the sentence official. That written decision has yet to be submitted by Wu.

Wu had asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for written clarification on how Attorney General Eric Holder’s February statements hinting at a new American medical cannabis policy would affect Lynch’s sentencing.

H. Marshall Jarrett, responded to Wu’s inquiry by stating “the Office of the Deputy Attorney General has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant [Lynch] are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions.”

Jarrett’s name appears as one of the carbon copy recipients of the latest DOJ memo. It remains to be seen if this memo will affect Lynch’s yet-to-be-released sentence.

Lynch and his attorneys maintain that he followed state law but the courts prohibited the defense from presenting any state law or medical evidence in federal courts because the supreme courts have ruled state law compliance and medical proof as irrelevant in federal cases. Lynch has never even been charged in state court.

Lynch’s conviction stems from a 2007 raid and arrest conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Pat Hedges. Sources close to the case estimate the federal government has wasted over one million dollars on this case and the sheriff’s department wasted over $100,000.00.

The new memo specifically addresses the issue of limited federal resources, stating: “The Department is also committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources.”

Lynch supporters believe the DOJ has been inefficient and irrational with its use of resources in this case, especially since Lynch had the Morro Bay Mayor, Janice Peters, and City Attorney, Rob Schultz, testify on his behalf as a law abiding citizen. Lynch also had a business license that specifically stated it was a medical cannabis dispensary and a conditional use permit to have a medical cannabis nursery on site.

Also at issue here, Lynch was convicted of 2 counts of sales to minors. However, in drug cases, the federal government considers anyone under the age of 21 to be a minor. Whereas, Lynch had business license requirements that stated minors under the age of 18 years old had to be accompanied by their parent or guardian while in Lynch’s facility. In addition, California state law does not have an age limit on the use of doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

Lynch remains out on $400,000.00 bail pending appeal, while eagerly waiting to see how this will affect his case. There are plenty of others like Lynch who have been convicted in federal court but never charged in state court. All their lives have been ruined by bad policy regarding medical cannabis.

To learn more, visit www.friendsofccl.com

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