Wednesday, July 30, 2014     Volume: 28, Issue: 52
Signup
Featured Slideshow

Slideshow

Panga Boat Bust 9/6

Weekly Poll
What’s the best type of summer movie?

Big explosions and stuff!
Dumb jokes and stuff!
Super depressing documentaries … and stuff!
Reimagined versions of cartoons from my childhood that poop all over my nostalgia!

Vote! | Poll Results

RSS Feeds

Latest News RSS
Current Issue RSS

Special Features
Delicious
Search or post SLO County food and wine establishments

New Times / Shredder

The following article was posted on August 20th, 2008, in the New Times - Volume 23, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 23, Issue 3

Pot and porn

A couple of New Times folks had the chance to sit down with Sheriff Pat Hedges the other day and, at his invitation, talk over the various state laws governing medical marijuana.

First of all, let’s just put it out there that Hedges must be a fairly good sport. He gets his mug all over New Times occasionally, and rarely in a flattering light, but even though he’s a small guy he’s big enough to continue to talk, unlike another certain hulking area politician, who shall remain nameless, since the voters have kicked him out anyway.

I wasn’t in the room, but I gleaned as much as I could from Kylie Mendonca and Ed Connolly, who were, and then I exaggerated what they said a bit and re-imagined the situation. You could say I eavesdropped on the conversation. Sheriff Hedges would undoubtedly understand. Here’s roughly how I’m saying things went:

The good sheriff came armed with a small stack of documents that he said represented the current state of law on medical marijuana. One of them was a fairly recent piece of advice from Attorney General Jerry Brown on how police should interpret the state’s marijuana laws. Hedges seemed to find in them some vindication for his actions in inviting the feds to raid the local medical marijuana dispensary last year. (I gather the timing for his talk was hedged on the recent guilty verdict of the Morro Bay dispensary’s owner, Charles Lynch.)

Hedges also provided the New Times folks with a copy of the so-called 420 law, the bill defining how medical marijuana can be provided in California. Only Hedges either didn’t seem to know or didn’t much care that state courts have since interpreted that law in ways that would have explicitly worked in Lynch’s favor.

More than that, he highlighted words, sentences and paragraphs in both the law and Brown’s advice memo that serve his anti-marijuana agenda, yet glossed over or ignored those that don’t.

But neither of those reasons were the weirdest part of the conversation, as I gather things. No, the weirdest part was that Hedges was laboring so hard to prove, in essence, that he would have been under rights to arrest Charles Lynch under state marijuana laws.

An aside: according to Hedges, the most illegal thing Lynch did was sell the marijuana, presumably for a profit. To that I say that Hedges and I agree that Lynch should have given it away. Sheriff Hedges and I apparently both enthusiastically support free pot.

But back to the issue: If Sheriff Hedges, as he argued so ferociously, could have arrested Lynch under state laws, why didn’t he?

If you’re the top lawman, and you think somebody’s breaking your laws—he had deputies parked out front of Lynch’s dispensary for months—shouldn’t you stand up and make the collar yourself? Why call in big brother to do your dirty work for you?

I’ll go ahead and answer that: You call in the nannies because it’s a slam dunk under federal law, wherein selling marijuana for any purpose, medical or otherwise, is patently illegal. The jury didn’t really have much of a choice but to convict Lynch; he admitted he sold pot. But the deck would have been stacked in Lynch’s favor in state courts, as both state voters and the Legislature have endorsed medical marijuana.

And the funniest thing of all about the meeting was you’d have thunk Hedges would have had a bit more on his plate that day, as it was just days after his department had had a run-in with the feds of a slightly different nature. Just days before, the FBI had served a warrant on the home of one of the sheriff’s deputies, carting away the deputy’s computer. And, folks, when the FBI comes for somebody’s computer, you can bet dollars to dirtbags there’s a good chance it’s about kiddie porn.

So it was that just days later that same deputy, Bryan Goossens, already by then on suspension from the Sheriff’s Department, was arrested by the FBI in a large-scale breakup of a child pornography ring. Word is they found tens of thousands of images of child porn on his computer.

Goossens’ arrest has made national news since and can’t in any way be defined as good PR for the department. Did I mention that he was, at least for a time, assigned as a School Resource Officer? Creep that, dog.

Now, the last time a sheriff’s deputy got in legal trouble, I frankly just didn’t know what to make of it. The guy had pushed a cart of groceries out of the store without paying and then mumbled some nonsense to the cartboy about how it had happened. To that I say let those who haven’t stuffed a summer sausage down their pants in aisle nine cast the first stone. But if the charges against Goossens—would it be crass to point out that his initials would make his name BJ Goossens?—are true, he’s a straight-out creeper of the worst kind. Good luck in jail!

Anyhoo, one might have thought the good sheriff would have had a bit more on his mind than Charles Lynch and medical marijuana. But one would be wrong. This is one lawman who seems at times to have pot, more than most anything else, on the brain.