Medical pot shop owner facing 100 years

July 18, 2008


Charles C. Lynch sits in his South County home this weekend awaiting the start of a trial that poses for him the threat of a century in federal prison for doing what he thought was the right thing.

The parents of a San Luis Obispo County youth suffering from bone cancer agree with Lynch, as does a legion of supporters.

Not agreeing? San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges, and the federal government.

Lynch, former owner of a licensed Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary, was at his business March 27, 2007, when he was visited by a joint team of well-armed and flak-jacketed San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies and federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents. They collected his inventory but made no arrest. Lynch reopened the business “with the blessing of the landlord and city officials,” he would later say.

The landlord would later report pressure from DEA authorities, and Lynch was forced to close in May 2007. He was arrested two months later, a first for Lynch. The Arroyo Grande man’s trial for marijuana sales starts Tuesday in U.S. District Court at 8 p.m. in Courtroom 10.

The business Lynch was operating is legal under California law. Federal law, however, views cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug and U.S. drug agents have demonstrated a tendency to enforce pot laws vigorously. Rulings on pre-trial motions have determined that jurors hearing Lynch’s case will not be told that he was running a compassionate marijuana business, properly and under California law. Instead, prosecutors will charge that Lynch is a drug king-pin who faces enhanced charges of selling the drug to a minor.

During a brief telephone conversation with Lynch Friday, a reporter could hear young children laughing and chattering in the background. Lynch referred all questions to his attorney, federal public defender Reven Cohen.

Lynch will begin his trial knowing that somewhere between the smiles, handshakes, and backslaps from city officials and Morro Bay business owners welcoming his business in 2006 came “the tip” – information and an invitation provided to federal drug enforcement authorities by Sheriff Hedges.

Hedges has said repeatedly that he is required to follow federal law because it preempts state regulation. The sheriff recently attempted to keep a few grams of medical marijuana confiscated from a county man who possessed a prescription from a physician. Though Hedges eventually gave the pot back to its owner after being threatened by a local judge, he remained adamant about his position. Hedges wrote in March to that he has “heard the argument that I am not required to enforce federal law. I would simply ask if I am required to comply with federal law. My opinion is that I am. I would hope that you would agree.”

Hedges added, “As sheriff, I retain all options that any other individual has as far as exercising my right to appeal.” He wondered “what law authorizes me to engage in the distribution of a controlled substance? It is my opinion that the legal system should be given an opportunity to answer the issues as they deal with distribution.”

Lynch faces enhanced sales charges because he sold medical pot to Owen Beck, a young athlete whose leg was amputated after physicians found cancer. With his parents’ permission, and after trying everything that contemporary medicine could provide, Beck turned to the medical marijuana dispensary for help. At that time, he was 17 and accompanied by his father.

Beck and his parents had reason to feel confidence in Lynch’s shop; Lynch was a member in good standing of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, and had the endorsement and support of a wide variety of local officials and fellow business owners.

Beck said he found comfort with the pot for the first time since his disease had been diagnosed and his leg taken.

The story of Beck and Lynch has been told in a short documentary on, narrated by television star and comedian Drew Carey.


By: Anonymous on 8/4/08

"semi-retired" = out of a job

It this kind of person that is hoping the Dali Bama is elected so he can get the government to do everything for him.

Funny thing, folks that are for income redistribution are those that don't have any money.

Obama will lose. It's a done deal.

By: Anonymous on 8/3/08

We like Obama. He's open minded.

And yes, he has smoked the herb. And admitted it too, including inhaling. Can't get much more honesty than that from a politician these days.

But we admire McCain also. He's a survivor. Keeps getting shot down, ends up captured and nearly left for dead, pretty much like his presidential campaign, but, surprise, he's back and a contender. He might not be as good a President as Barack Hussein Obama, but he would probably do very well on that show "Survivor." But if he did heroin or pot or opium in 'nam like so many of our Vietnam vets, he's not telling.

But I'll have to go with Obama for obvious reasons. And if he's less likely to want waste tax payer money putting pot users in prison, all the better.

Go Obama!

By: Anonymous on 8/3/08

Your "Golden Boy" Barry Hussien Obama just flip/flopped on off shore oil drilling. He is sounding more like a republican every day.

I wonder if he is smoking medical marijuana!

“If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks."

B. Hussein Obama 8/1/2008

By: Anonymous on 8/2/08

Let's get serious for a moment. Does anyone care to speculate why Mr. Hedges seems to be going so overboard in trying to bust pot smokers? Some other Sheriffs in other counties have decided to stand by the California voted law that allows for medical marijuana. They leave it alone. But Hedges is making a big issue of it, even calling in Federal Agents to bust locals. Why is he so rabid in his desire to please the Feds and thwart the will of the people? I can't figure it out. His approach is costing us hundreds of thousands, even millions of taxpayer dollars in enforcement, plus we are losing all the tax revenue that medical marijuana dispensaries provide. What is going on?

By: Anonymous on 8/1/08

Take your meds and step away from your computer.

Your "BroCrush" on Brennler is wearing thin


By: Anonymous on 7/31/08

Maybe Brennler he hangs with all the lefties in Atascadero maybe he's pro medical pot.

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

If Hedges is recalled, who would be designatied to be his replacement?

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

I think we can actually get a recall and it could be put on the November ballot where it will cost next to nothing. The problem is finding the right person to take his position. We need people to stand up because no one ran against him in the last election and there are no obvious replacements.

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

Let's get back on topic and continue discussing whether it would be best to recall Sheriff Hedges or wait until the next scheduled election to replace him.

Hedge has gone off the deep end once too often, needlessly wasting huge amounts of taxpayer money and law enforcement man power in a zealous pursuit of medicinal marijuana users and purveyors. Our county derives nothing from this, it only costs.

People who run official medical marijuana dispensaries pay taxes on their sales. So, because of Sheriff Hedges, our county is losing HUGE amounts of tax money to other counties.

So, what the hell is Hedges smoking?

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

We all know that when extreme right wingers and fascists call Barack Obama "elitist" or a "snob" that it is an obvious racist code word substituted for "uppity."

These unpatriotic fascist liberal bashers are despicable and are harming our country.

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

Nobody trained me or told me to post anything. You are a scoundrel, liar and a fool of the lowest sort.

It doesn't take a seminar to realize the Bush Administration has shit all over our nation and our Constitution.

It doesn't take a seminar to know that Obama will be a far superior President and has already succeeded in making our nation stronger and more respected. He has inspired an entire generation to become politically involved to rebuild our country. And that will not be an easy job, considering the mess that has been made of it.

If you've got a better Presidential candidate than Barack Obama, please tell us about him, instead of trying to divide our country and talking shit about good people in such a cowardly, lowly manner.

By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

Don't be fooled folks…These clowns are nothing more that seminar liberals taught to post this crap anywhere and everywhere. They are trained rats…that bow at the alter of Snobamessiah and george soros.

Bush is an angel compared to the elitist empty suit Marxist the libs are running.

Europe loves this clown but he has lost 12 points in the polls since his visit to his socialist friends abroad. But America sees right through this stuttering socialist!


By: Anonymous on 7/29/08

The United States HAS gone to hell under the Bush Administration. If that sentiment is all over the internet, it's because it's true. Yes, only an idiot can't see that.

The Republican's priorities are a mess. Just like our local war against marijuana users.

Greed and selfishness rule this country, but thankfully that is changing.

Obama's incredible success is only one sign of a reawakening in America. Next we will start seeing more progressive leaders emerge to balance Obama's consrevative streak.

It is interesting to hear people spend so much time and energy criticizing Obama, mostly because they don't have any alternative candidate that is worth spending time praising.

It would be nice, and more productive for America, if people would spend more time promoting what is good, rather than criticizing everything they don't like.

We're fortunate that we have Obama to promote and not have to sink to the lowly politics of sliming people and "swift boating" good people.

By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

never again is a seminar liberal. That kind of post is all over the radical liob sites, Claim to be a republican then bash President Bush.

You lefty loons are so predictable. By the way…in a new poll today your "snobamessiah" is 4 points down.

That means he lost 12 points on his foolish trip to europe. Obama is a flipping clown. An emty suit.

By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

I voted Republican and the country has gone to hell. The economy is failing, the stock market is tanking, property values are in the toilet, we got soldiers being killed and losing arms and legs everyday for no good reason, our schools have gone downhill, medical care is pathetic.

There isn't one darn thing in our country that hasn't turned to shit ever since George W. Bush came to office.

Were we better off before Bush? Hell yes!

I was fooled before, but never again!

By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

Let the old hippies have their damn pot! Let the cancer patients have their pot!

Who the hell cares? No pot smoking hippie or cancer patient has ever done me any harm.

Anyone who thinks the laws against pot have helped our country is an idiot. It has divided our country and increased distrust and disrespect for police.

Hedges has his head up his ass. What the hell is HE smoking?


By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

If it's a legal medical product then why is sold in slimey lil stores on the street? Full of Rastafarian posters, black lights and pipes and the like.

Medical pot is a freeking joke! If they don't have it in a legal dispensing drug store it ain't legal and you know it!

Read the Constitution! Federal laws always trump states rights.

If you want to stop that crap vote Republican and it will.

By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

Medical Marijuana is legal in California. Its the will of the majority vote. Respect the people or move to another state. I don't like pot myself but I respect that it has a "sound" useful purpose for many people. Now go have another alcoholic beveage with Hedges.

By: Anonymous on 7/28/08

The California supreme court over turned an initiative on no gay marriage voted on by over 1.7 million voters!

Medical marijuana is a joke. It's just a way for old hippies to get their insurance to pay for their pot habit.

Judges are legislating from the bench and this crap has to stop!

Hedges is upholding laws while judges on our supreme court are kicking them to the curb.

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

The real question is why does Hedges have so little respect for the will of the voters and the California LAW that was passed? I agree, he's gone off the deep end and needs to be replaced ASAP.

And while Mr. Hedges puts so much effort into quashing medical marijuana, Gang members run rampant in Paso Robles beating up people who attend the Mid State Fair.

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

My experience is that when someone is extremely zealous about "cleaning up society" and goes overboard trying to rid the world of pornography or marijuana, it often ends up that the zealot has some serious skeletons in their closet. Quite a few years ago in the south county there was a local politician who tried to run a head shop out of town. Turns out the local politician had a little problem of his own regarding child molestation.

Rabid anti-drug folks often have a history of substance abuse personally or with a family member.

Mr. Hedges, what exactly is YOUR problem that inspired you to go overboard in trying to stake out and track the personal information of medical marijuana users and call in the feds to literally make a federal case out of something so minor?


By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

I ended up trying some at another time but I still don't like the effects of weed. I get paranoid and it messes with my swallowing mechanism. I tried the "natural" hormones, but they made me bloat. I've decided I'd rather be hot than fat and paranoid. The story is funny (now) but I still think they overacted for what they new was 2 little buds (they opened the package). FIVE guys storming the house from all different directions? Geez. Plus they insisted the cash I was saving for my son's tuition was drug money.

I live in a quiet residential SLO neighborhood, my house is clean and neat, and to look at me nobody would think, "Now there goes a pothead/tweaker/addict."

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

I guess you never got to find out if it worked for your hot flashes or not? It does help considerably. I still get the flashes but they don't wake me up all night long and I'm not as irritable. My husband insisted that I try a puff because he couldn't stand me any longer. He loves me again and I have a recomendation for it. Your story is actually kind of funny. I can't imagine that happenimng to me over my hot flashes! They really did cause me to be a bitchy wife. I'm much happier and peaceful with this prescrition rather than estrogen therapy.

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

Let that be a lesson. Don't break the law.

Law enforcement was sopt on. See your doctor if you need help, not your local pusher.

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

Although I never really liked pot, it was readily available during the 70's, the decade when I came of age. Many years later, when the effects of menopause were interfering with my life, a friend suggested I try a puff of weed to help with insomnia, irritability, and hot flashes. I hadn't taken so much as a puff in over 20 years when she sent me what I later learned was about 1/16th of an ounce, via fed-ex. Unfortunately, she failed to package it properly and DEA dogs got a whiff. After following my teenage son and me around all day, (on your tax-dollar tab) they waited while I signed the package from the "fed ex delivery man" before descending upon my house and scaring the shit out of my unwitting kid and me, threatening to arrest me, break the lock on my studio (they were convinced it was a mth lab). FIVE DEA and local sheriff dept. guys grilled and intimidated me, not believing when I told them my friend had sent it to me for menopause symptoms. They went through all my stuff, my son's stuff (who didn't know nor did he drink or smoke). When my tenant arrived home from work, they threw him in the back of the police car–undoubtedly because he happened to be black. Two hours later, after turning up nothing, they finally left with the teensy bit of weed, a photo of me, numbers from my cell phone, and the fed-ex mailer. What a waste of our tax dollars! When they called the officials from where the pot originated (an area known for millions of acres of CA growing grounds) they must have laughed in their faces because my friend never heard a word from them.

Either these guys are really bored, really stupid, or just like trying to intimidate some middle-aged woman suffering from menopause. Good grief.

By: Anonymous on 7/27/08

I wish law enforcement would put the same amount of time into rounding up illegal's and ridding our streets of illegal gang activity by same, as they do with the medical maryjane issue.

Boy is this nations priorities screwed up!



By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

I'm not surprised Mr. Hedges is going so far out of his way to quash medical marijuana.

San Luis Obispo County has a long, long history of local politicians being tied in with the liquor and tobacco distribution business. Marijuana consumption poses a threat to that dominance.

Whether Hedges has a direct or silent parter link to the regional alcohol business, or receives political "donations" from it, or whether he is simply abiding by a long, long local politician "good ol' boy" tradition will be up to enterprising journalists to report on.

By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

Let's get back to the real issue here and the discussion of whether Sheriff Hedges should be recalled.

While I'm not yet convinced he should be recalled, I feel strongly that he should be replaced by a less regressive, more effective member of the law enforcement community. Whether that should be by recall or standard election remains the question.

By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

To Get Serious: Whoa there pony. Don't get your knickers in a knot!! Rules, laws, whatever have to be overturned not consistently misused to be effective. We can't just go willy nilly on particular decisions just because we want to. Follow the yellow brick road and you will find a strange man behind the curtain – willing to give you what you wish for.

By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

I'm not a neocon and I'm not trying to defame anyone.

I am in the "real world" every bit as much as you are.

No need to start throwing around insults.

It is obvious there are a lot of unhappy liberals AND conservatives. But I'm neither. Thank you God.

By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

Sounds like too many folks posting here have never taken a solid dose of high grade LSD.

Illegal drugs can be abused and are not the road to happiness. But, man, I'll tell you, dropping acid with 10,000 other people and dancing to live Grateful Dead at the Ventura Fairgrounds, and going surfing right after was total bliss for me.

Sorry, but that's the truth.

By: Anonymous on 7/24/08

You said: "I've had some incredible experiences with psychedelics"

Happiness is not cuased by illegal drugs, and join the real world.

I am a liberal and your comments make us look bad. I wouldn't doubt that you are really a neocon trying to defame real liberals. Sad.

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

I'm a liberal and I'm very happy. I get a lot more great sex than my conservative friends. I've had some incredible experiences with psychedelics, I surf, I'm wealthy, I contribute to charities, I get respect when I travel to other countries, I play keyboards, I do yoga, I'm a vegetarian, and I'm extremely healthy, I have a good relationship with God. And I'm happy. Very, very happy!

Being a full on liberal is bitchen!


By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

Liberals are just angry all the time. I wonder what would make them happy?

The reincarnation of Karl Marx?

Chill out liberal. As for the spelling it was intended to be spelled that way. Can you guess why? The answer requires a sense of humor, you may want to do a mobile shout out.

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

To Oximoron:

I purposefully chose my name to expose fascist neocons like yourself. If you think patriotism is reserved strictly for Republicans, you're sadly mistaken. Thank you for proving my point that some right-wingers don't care about anyone's rights but their own.

I'm liberal, keep up to date on local and national issues, and have not missed an election yet. I love this country and all it has given me. I know its history, and hope for a better future for ALL Americans than what we've seen these last 8 years. That, my friend, makes me a patriot.

Oh, and by the way, the correct spelling is "oxymoron." But you Bush-supporting neocon neanderthals just love to butcher the English language. Here's an idea: Read a book! Use your brain!

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

How long is Hedges term for? I hope its 2 years and not 4. Didn't he just get re-elected by default because no one ran against him? I guess it would take a recall to get him out?

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

The Federal Courts can not win these cases and thats why they don't allow all the facts such as the fact that Lynch was a compassionate caregiver. We all saw what happend when they tried to prosceute "Brownie Mary" (4 times) a few years ago. The jury kept finding her not guilty. There was a case where a fellow was caught growing 500 plants for a buyers club and the Federal Judge would not allow the jury to be told that he was growing for a buyers club and had a contract(he was found guilty as a dealer). I think people need to picket the court house to be certain that the jury has all the facts. Also someone needs to come along and do something about the federal courts "rigging trials". We need a big change comes November.

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

In another post a Kool Aid drinking neocon said I sounded angry and that I needed to get out more. For a second, I thought I might take him up on his offer and get outside. And then I read this article…

How can you not be angry??? Our government officials are giving us mixed messages on the law (state: it's ok, feds: it's not ok, sheriff: duh, I don't know).

I don't have anyone in my life who is using marijuana medically. I don't use marijuana personally. Having qualified that (why do I need to qualify? Because of the morons who will write this post off as the rant of someone trying to protect his pot), I've got to add a few things…

The federal government needs to get out to the nanny business and stay the f@#k out of our lives. Period. Our system of government was set up to have the power residing with the states, and that the federal government would be limited in its size and power. State should trump Fed, and in this case it isn't, because some nanny-ass born again pseudo-religious neocon assholes have decided that they know what is good and right for us better than we do ourselves.

And THAT has got to stop.

I don't know Sheriff Hedges. He may be an a#@hole, he may a good guy. But I do sympathize for the position he is in — having to decide whether to enforce state or federal law when there isn't a clear direction as to which is the way to go (legally) must be difficult. Having said that, I would love to see him find his balls and enforce local and state laws and tell the Feds to get out of their business. But maybe that's asking too much from a sheriff in charge of a bunch of college kids.


By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

to all who are willing to support any and all laws, I offer two words: Jury nullification:

When the jury decides that the law itself is unjust or it is being applied improperly, they may decide not to enforce the law in the case before them. They simply vote “not guilty.” This is called “jury nullification” of the law. These are the only situations that are accurately described as “jury nullification.”

The jury can find the defendant not guilty for many other reasons which do not constitute nullification.

"[I]t is presumed, that the juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that the courts are the best judges of law. But still, both objects are within your power of decision. You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy."

– John Jay, First Chief Justice, United States Supreme Court

State of Georgia v. Brailsford 3 Dall. 1,4

Check out

Get on a jury

Use your conscience

Nullify bad laws

It's your right & your duty

Freedom depends upon it

By: Anonymous on 7/23/08

"The laws were written for a reason"…..

If that's all you've got to fall back on, then we're all in trouble. Is anyone under the misunderstanding that the law writing process is somehow related to anything other than politics? Start with the basics: murder, rape, robbery, larceny, mayhem, kidnapping, rape, assault and battery , these are all basically "bad acts" ….but virtually everything else, outside of the ten commandments, are only illegal because of society's decrees as to what is right or wrong. In our society, our legislatures make those decrees (or the populace may do so by ballot measures)….so Congress (Federal) has decreed all marijuana as illegal, and the people of the state of California have disagreed (in terms of medicinal use). Assuming the laws are written for a reason, whose reason prevails….the people's or the (congressional)politicians.??? If you're suggesting that politician's morals should control, then I've got to admit that you've made me laugh….

Gosh I'm sure confused here..Prohibition, an amendment to our constitution was enacted……and then repealed. Written for a reason and repealed for a reason would apparently be the appropriate logic under the announced test.

We put people in jail because they use, possess or sell the evil heathen weed…..why don't we just worry about those who abuse it like we do with alcohol and prescription drugs or even driving a car???

The simple answer is that there's no good reason for the current state of the law, other than the fact that we've become a society that's forgotten why this country was established.

What we really need is a law that requires people to wash their hands after they use the restroom. We can have the local police set up surprise stations outside of restrooms to scan everyone's hands for fecal matter. Think of all the disease which could be eliminated …we can teach jr. high kids about the danger, and put C.Y.H. ("Clean Your Hands") stickers on everyone's car…..Also, we should require supermarkets to scan the driver's licences of everyone who buys crisco… can't be good for them, and who knows what else they might be doing with it?



By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

Wow. I just watched the link about this issue. Sheriff Hedges INVITED the DEA to raid the dispensary. I agree with the notion that the Sheriff has no valid reason to enforce federal law; he is not a federal agent! He is a County Sheriff, operating under California law, and he should focus his efforts on enforcing California law. If a federal crime happens right in front of him (like some terrorist attack or something), sure, step up and do the job of law enforcement. But this obsession of his about marijuana dispensaries is an obscene waste of taxpayer's dollars. The whole notion of a "war on drugs" is beyond stupid, and the time, energy and money spent on fighting the so called war on drugs is just absurd. Sheriff Hedges seems to have a problem following the law himself when he secretly records one of his deputies; does he have some sort of problem following the law himself? As for Mr. Lynch, good God how stupid is this case to try and give him a hundred year sentence? Why conservatives have such a problem with this is beyond me; shouldn't this be a "states rights" issue? I thought that someone who believes that what one does in the privacy of their own home is nobodies business, as long as both parties agree and both are of consenting legal age. The young man had a doctors prescription for the marijuana, his father was there to do the actual buying, and the "compassionate caregiver" Mr. Lynch actually gave the marijuana to the boy's father. This is a crime? I do agree that it is time to change the law.

By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

You are probably right. Only the rich and connected can flagrantly flout the law.

Be sure to smile when they tell you to bend over.

By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

"Liberal Patriot" has been officially placed on the oximoron list. It's in the top 10.

Thanks for the submission.

By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

Sorry, I'm normally pretty mellow. I just don't take kindly to being called an idiot by some dude who doesn't even know me. You're right, time to go home and drink a beer and smoke some medicinal herb. At least beer is still legal. :)

By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

Dude! You are wrapped way too tight. Chill out..or you will blow a gasket and need to finf illegal drugs to cure you.

LOL…man u are way pissed off. Relax and have a lefty!

By: Anonymous on 7/22/08

Was I advocating the use of marijuana? No, I was simply responding to someone who said a company should come up with a synthetic THC product. Marinol is that product. So why are you so angry? Is it because you have such low self esteem that you feel the need to lash out at a complete stranger, on a faceless internet blog? Or are you just pissed off that you and your right wing cronies are about to lose your (false) grip on power?

Don't make claims about my patriotism, thanks very much. If you had it your way, the Republicans would be the only political party. Not so democratic, more fascist. So that's your view of patriotism? You clearly know nothing about me. Take your childish intellect somewhere else.

Oh, and by the way, medicinal marijuana IS the law in California. Passed by voters 12 years ago. Look it up, or have someone who's literate read it to you. Pal.