Mountain View Voice

News - May 14, 2010

Patients plead to keep pot club open

Lawyer owner says he'd rather cooperate than litigate

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council came face to face with a half dozen medical marijuana users Tuesday who pleaded with the council to not take away a convenient source of medical marijuana in Mountain View.

One of them was Mountain View resident Richard Ritter, 63, who said he had been paying $100 for cab rides to San Jose to buy his medical marijuana before Buddy's Cannabis Patient Collective opened a month ago without any permits from the city. It might be an illegal pot club, but Ritter and others local medical marijuana users say that it makes life easier to have a dispensary near by. Ritter walks with a cane and doesn't own a car.

"It's the only medicine that works," said the 63-year-old Ritter. He said he was a NASA Ames test pilot whose helicopter crashed into a Fremont power line in 1981 and nearly killed him. He said he broke dozens of bones and has a frozen hip, among other sources of pain.

Ritter may have to resume those $100 cab rides again soon. Upon direction of the City Council, the Bayshore Parkway collective faces an injunction request filed by the city in court last week that could shut down the dispensary at the end of the month. While the City Council agrees that medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed in the city, Mayor Ronit Bryant and a majority of the council believe that Buddy's should be shut down while the city creates appropriate regulations for dispensaries. The city had passed a temporary ban on pot dispensaries in Mountain View just weeks before Buddy's opened.

Though the owner of Buddy's, former corporate attorney Matt Lucero, said he would take the city all the way to state Supreme Court, he said Tuesday in a phone interview that he wanted to cooperate with the city if possible.

"It is not our intention to litigate," Lucero said. "Our purpose here is to help people." Directing his remarks at the City Council, he said, "We're together on this, let's find common ground. Tell us the conditions, we'll work with them."

Stanford psychiatry professor Roy King and his wife Rebecca Forest, Mountain View residents, spoke on behalf of Buddy's on Tuesday. Forest has a seizure disorder which she said has caused the painful ruptured disc and slipped vertebrae in her spine after repeated falls. Using narcotics like Vicodin to kill the pain has too many side effects, such as liver damage, and are much more addictive, Forest said. She has been using medical marijuana for a year.

King and Forest said they felt safe visiting Buddy's, which is in an industrial neighborhood near Shoreline Park's western entrance. Other dispensaries in Oakland or San Jose seem less safe, they said.

Employees of the dispensary — there are a dozen total — pleaded for their jobs and for the patients they said they had been helping. "It's the best job I've ever had," said one of the employees.

A man who said he works at Microsoft's Mountain View campus also spoke in support of the dispensary, saying he treats his sleeping problems and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his abusive childhood with medical marijuana.

"It allows me to hold down my job," the man said.

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

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