Hedges backs down to court, will return pot
April 30, 2008
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Sheriff Pat Hedges will return a small baggie of marijuana to its rightful owner today.
The lawman had refused to return the medical marijuana to Arroyo Grande’s D. Craig Steffens even after an order issued by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman. Hedges was to appear in court Thursday to explain why he should not be held in contempt for ignoring Tangeman’s instruction.
The pot was seized after Steffens was stopped for a traffic infraction. When it was determined that the pot he possessed was lawfully prescribed, charges were dismissed and Hedges was told to return the small quantity of weed to Steffens. Hedges refused. With his current change of heart, Hedges sidesteps any court appearance. The pot is to be returned at Sheriff’s Headquarters at 3 p.m.
San Luis Obispo attorney Louis Koory said Hedges had “no right” to keep the medical pot.
“The courts have been very clear on this issue,” said Koory this week.
Hedges was stalling for time to allow the state supreme court to hear a similar case prompted by an Orange County man. The high court indicated recently that it has no intention of taking up that case. Thus California law, which presently allows patients with prescriptions to use marijuana for medical purposes, will stand. The sheriff has asserted that he is bound by federal law to enforce marijuana prohibitions.
A California appeals court recently ruled against a group of California cities and law enforcement agencies claiming that federal law trumped state law. The court held that the return of medical marijuana by law enforcement agencies was “compelled by principles of due process.”