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Pot Shop Raid Reflects Legal Devide

PFlynn

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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.


Source: Tribune The (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune
Contact: letters@thetribunenews.com
Website: San Luis Obispo County's website | Homepage
 
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