What’s changing for medical pot under Obama?

February 13, 2009
President Obama promises change in federal pot enforcement, but doubters remain.

President Obama promises change in federal pot enforcement, but doubters remain.


Signs abound that federal interest in medicinal marijuana use may be diminishing under the Barack Obama Administration.

But there’s also no indication that such a relaxation in enforcement by U.S. drug authorities would impact San Luis Obispo County much. Or make much of a difference in the eventual outcome of the case of Charles Lynch, the Morro Bay pot dispensary owner convicted under federal law of distribution and now facing federal prison.

An article last week by Associated Press reporter Delvin Barrett cited Obama’s numerous campaign pledges to end federal prosecution of medical pot patients and their caregivers and providers in states where use of the plant is legal if prescribed by a physician. California is one such state.

The Associated Press quoted White House spokesman Nick Shapiro, who said: “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.” The wire service said DEA officials in Washington are now declining all comment on the subject.

Lou Koory, a San Luis Obispo attorney representing Lynch, is not optimistic that meaningful change will occur at the federal level: “Same suits,” Koory shrugged.

Just last week, federal drug enforcement agents raided four Los Angeles-area dispensaries and seized 500 pounds of weed.

Lynch was arrested following a months-long investigation by a joint law enforcement team which included San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department personnel, some of whom worked undercover.

Sheriff Pat Hedges has repeatedly and strongly defended his department’s participation in the Lynch investigation, citing his responsibility to “uphold all law.”

Stacey Warde, publisher of the monthly Rogue Voice, said he formally requested sheriff’s reports detailing the level of the department’s involvement and cost to county taxpayers. He said his request was declined.

A Los Angeles woman, Cheryl Aichele, filed a citizen complaint against Hedges and other department employees. She questions the legality of Hedges’ efforts in the Lynch case, and has asked him to “investigate all complaints.” State law requires that the sheriff forward investigated complaints to the California Attorney General.

Undersheriff Steve Bolts told Aichele the department had broken no laws: “It is the department’s position that there are no violations of state or federal law committed by employees in the course of the Lynch investigation,” he wrote in a February 5 letter.

Aichele asserts that Hedges’ department assumed the lead in expensive forensic work for which county taxpayers footed the bill, and spent investigative funds even though federal authorities considered Lynch a low priority.

A rally protesting Lynch’s conviction and Hedges’ role in it will be held at the Federal Courthouse, 312 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, on February 23. Television personality Al Roker interviewed Lynch for a yet-unscheduled MSNBC special called “An Hour on Marijuana.” An ABC 20/20 segment called “Bullsh*t in America” airs February 20 at 7 p.m. PST.


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By: George on 3/14/09

You Tube of Pat Hedges being Grilled by John Stossel,intrvu with Charles Lynch.


By: paperboy on 3/9/09

To Black Copter Pilot

I agree no drugs or alcohol would make the world an overall better place. But I'm a realist. We tried to get rid of booze and it failed miserably. In fact, prohibition only served to make underworld figures like Capone and others immensely rich and powerful.

I also agree with hotdog, our government makes untold billions of taxes off wine, beer and spirits industries and then spends hundreds of millions combatting drinking and drunk driving, reaping millions more in fines, fees and the drug and alcohol services classes.

It's idiotic at best and a little psychotic to boot.

If pot were legal and regulated like alcohol is, you'd take what is essentially a black market illegal product that feeds the underworld and makes bad people rich, and turn it into a farm commodity.

And it would be a farm commodity that would be a guaranteed money maker, unlike vegetables and other crops that are subject to manipulation by the buyers for the supermarkets.

No matter how much pot was grown, the demand is only going to increase every day as people turn 21 and reach legal age to smoke, just as they do now with alcohol.

I think it's high time California face reality and legalize pot. It's too big of a business to turn your back on.

By: Shouldhaveknown on 2/18/09

Legalize it, tax it, and use the revenues to save CA. Despite whitefeather's claim it is not just for those dying. Clearly whitefeather has never been to a pain management specialist and does not have someone close to them suffering daily pain that could be helped. The highly addictive narcotic drugs that are prescriped instead, such as morphine and oxycotin, are so much worse on our bodies and our society than a crop grown and sold locally.

By: NorthCountyGuy on 2/17/09

Most anti-marijuana laws are based on propaganda and hoaxes. For the truth, check out the Marijuana Law Reform website – NORMAL http://www.norml.org/

By: NorthCountyGuy on 2/17/09

Get the feds out of California! The relentless persecution of medical marijuana that is legal in California is totally insane. The people have spoken with their ballots. BTW, How many people are the feds killing with alcohol?

By: hotdog on 2/17/09

Nameless has brought up a crucial point. Much of the world, and lately Paso and other areas of our county, depend on the growing and marketing of dangerous drugs-alcohol. Yup, I drink wine, so what? We lavish praise on our wine industry, we have radio shows, wine tasting rooms all over, we are 'high' on the money it brings. We idolize our wine, and booze. The bars are full, the high end restaurants and clubs full of drinkers-some of whom then get in fights, throw up in our streets and sidewalks, drive drunk and make fools of themselves. The build up to all that is legal, and worshipped in our society. Smoking a little weed in your home is a ghastly crime. This is such a dysfunctional picture it almost makes me embarrassed to be a member of this society.

And the assault on medical weed is absolutely criminal.

Legalize it, tax it, forget it.

Anyone with half a brain can look up the literature and discover who started all the anti weed hysteria-the spirits industry! They didn't like the competition-so much for capitalism. Let's have a level playing field. Let's grow up and see things clearly with intelligence and compassion.

I'll bet anyone 10 to 1 that those against legalizing weed are the same that beat their chest about 'states rights' and other drivel about getting government out of our hair! Hypocrites. Let science decide, compare the danger of enforcing the current policy vs the perils of legalized light drugs-no contest at all. We should throw all the laws out and start over, just like we should with all IRS regs.

By: Nameless on 2/16/09


Its a choice we can all make. The reality is different in life. So lets learn to deal withit in the right way. Almost 60% of the prison/jail population is related to illicit drugs ofall diffrent kind. Imagine if we were to lock up all the boozers too. Paso Robles and other wine making areas would be cnsidered criminal enterprises. Come tot think of it; there are plenty criminal there, mainly two who are in jail today.

By: Black_Copter_Pilot on 2/16/09


how about we all do neither?

Better world?

By: paperboy on 2/16/09

If more people smoked weed and drank less alcohol, everybody would be better off.

Ask any cop on the street who he'd rather deal with someone who's high on pot or someone who's drunk. They'll tell you the pot smoker because the drunks always want to fight.

In California alone, pot crop is worth something like $9 billion a year. That's $9 billion off the books and fueling the underground black market. I say legalize it and tax it, and shed light on the whole situation.

By: Nameless on 2/16/09


So who are you to decide who needs what? Can anyone tell you what drink you can have? Are you aware that more people die of prescription drugs than illigal drugs?

The insane amount of funds being spent on the so called "WAR ON DRUGS" could solve many of the problems around the world. We are fighting in Afghanistan, sacreficing so much for so little and its all because we have our heads in the sand. I say "DE-CRIMINALIZEIT" tax it and lets treat it as alchoholism. That would be a real solution.

By: Cindy on 2/16/09

I agree with insider, legalize it and tax it. I don't agree with whitefeather. While I don't smoke grass I used it short term several years ago for a serious case of acid reflux that had started to damage my esophagus. I was allergic to the prescription medication that had been prescribed and had been rushed into the hospital twice.

I was in considerable pain at times with the acid reflux and after sleeping sitting up for three consecutive nights my husband asked me to try some grass. It worked! The problem went away after a week.

By: whitefeather on 2/13/09

Plenty of other medical drugs that can do what Marijuana proponents claim i does. Sorry unless you have Cancer or AIDS you do not need this. Even those two are pushing it my father was head of Hematology and was opposed to its use in most instances. Oh wow my knuckles hurt I need a "nice" dock to fill out the form! What a joke!

By: mccdave on 2/13/09

"…would impact San Luis Obispo County much. Or make much of a difference…"

What is this, ad copy? Twenty words into the story and I'm already cringing.

By: insider on 2/13/09

Legalize it. Tax it. Create 4 million jobs. Send the DEA to boarder patrol. Add a trillion to the federal government coffers.