Mountain View Voice

News - April 23, 2010

Pot club opens in Shoreline area, against city's wishes

Well-heeled lawyer Matt Lucero says he's ready for legal battle

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council decided Tuesday to take legal action against the first known storefront pot club in Mountain View, operated by a multimillionaire lawyer who says he is ready for a legal fight.

Lawyer Matt Lucero and his nephew Jesse opened a medical marijuana dispensary called Buddy's on April 10 in a warehouse at 2632 Bayshore Parkway. Its opening came as a surprise to city officials, and to other prospective pot club operators who believed the city would allow them to open dispensaries legally sometime in the next year.

City Council members met in closed session on Tuesday night to discuss a potential lawsuit meant to close the dispensary. The city considers the club to be illegal under a moratorium on pot clubs the council approved in February. City attorney Jannie Quinn said the council had decided to "initiate an action" against the pot club, but declined to say what that action would be until it actually happened.

If the city does move forward with legal action, "I am absolutely ready for them," Lucero said Wednesday. He said he believes state law supersedes the city's moratorium.

"We have very considerable financial resources and the backing of some really, really hard-hitting lawyers — people who have won California Supreme Court cases," Lucero said. "We're going to stay."

Some of those financial resources may come from Lucero himself, who said he made his millions working as a lawyer for large tech companies. "I've been significantly a millionaire for many years," he said.

Originally from Staten Island, Lucero has lived in the county since 1988 and currently resides in Campbell. He said the dispensary isn't about making money or making a political point: "It's about getting medicine to people who need it — people who are fighting AIDS and fighting cancer. I will absolutely continue to fight for the rights of the seriously ill residents of Santa Clara County."

The dispensary opened to the chagrin of prospective pot club operator Brian David, who wanted to work cooperatively with the city to open a pot club in the same Shoreline industrial neighborhood.

"Personally I feel he is breaking the law, and being an attorney does not make him above the law so he should be arrested, fined or both," David said in an e-mail. He added that pot club regulations could be approved by the council later this year, so he worried that the city would try to pass on a lawsuit against the dispensary.

Lucero said he picked Mountain View because it appeared that the City Council was relatively supportive of dispensaries. While a majority of council members supported the idea of allowing dispensaries in a February meeting, the council wanted more time to create regulations on them and placed a temporary ban on them starting in March. Because of that moratorium, the city had rejected an application for a business license by the operators of Buddy's.

The pot club's "discreet" location on Bayshore Parkway was selected in respect for concerns from city officials, Lucero said. "If you don't know it is here you are going to drive right by it, which is exactly how we want it," he said.

A look inside

The dispensary is located in a warehouse building that is partly used by Intuit for storage (Intuit has no connection to the pot club). On display in small jars are the various strains of marijuana for sale, which Lucero said are legally grown by collective members.

Inside, electronic music bounces off the pink walls and black-and-white floor. A large mural of the Virgin Mary is one of the first works by local artists that the collective hopes to have on display.

The place is well fortified: An alarm system uses laser beams to alert police to break-ins, heavy bars are installed over the windows, and soon security cameras will be installed.

Prospective club members are directed into a waiting room made from covered cyclone fence, where their doctor's notes are verified before a membership card is issued. Members are then allowed through a locked door into the dispensary.

"No one gets through that caged area unless we've verified their doctor's recommendation," Lucero said. "We do not distribute to non-members ever, ever."

The pot club had over 100 members join in the first week and took in $4,000 in sales, Lucero said.

Lucero said he hopes the pot club will be a "very positive community center" where artists can display their art and medi-pot users can take classes about how to grow their own marijuana. Buddy's is a nonprofit, and its surplus revenue will be available to local charities and other nonprofits, Lucero said.

According to Lucero, the dispensary has already been visited by Mountain View police, a building code enforcement officer, city attorney Quinn, city manager Kevin Duggan, planning director Randy Tsuda and council members John Inks and Tom Means.

"I assured them it would be lawful," he said.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Craig Brock, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 23, 2010 at 7:24 am

Helping out folks who suffer with an extremely helpful substance that truly never should have been banned in 1937 is, in the way Mr. Lucero is going about it, is a brave and, I believe, noble thing to do. He is causing no harm and believes he will win any fight to try to shut him down. These days, the amount of support he will have from the community will be tremendously large. I mean, he isn't even a for-profit businessman in this venture. Why bother with expensive legal action? Wouldn't the council's time, as well as the taxpayers' money, be better spent on learning from Mr. Lucero's example of how his business is conducted? If this means that even more dispensaries will open a bit sooner than the council had originally planned why is that such a terrible thing? Rules of their businesses can still be adopted when they can get around to formulating them and passing them. In the meantime, the dispensaries can be monitored to be sure they're complying with all the usual reasonable business practices, just as every other business has to. Everyone wins if taxpayer money is not invested, or even wasted, in the type of action proposed. And also in the win-win category, the city can gain useful information while figuring out just what regulations need to be drafted, while the extremely important mission of helping physician-certified sick people with a wondrously effective medication is allowed to go forward.
Mr. Lucero may be there before all of the regulations have been adopted, but he nevertheless feels that he's on firm legal ground. The sky isn't going to fall in. I believe that our council is more than talented enough to be able to get rules in place in an expeditious manner that will solve any conflicts completely and to everyone's satisfaction. Also, it would seem to be a wise thing in this case to save vital taxpayer money for other, more necessary, sorts of expenditures. Again, it seems that this can be a win-win situation for everyone.
Thank you very much,
C.B., Mtn. View


Posted by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

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