Pot club owner initiates court battle with city
In hopes of taking the issue all the way to the state Supreme Court, the operator of a newly opened medical marijuana dispensary in Mountain View is suing the city over its ban on pot clubs.
Matt Lucero, a well-to-do lawyer who lives in Campbell, filed the suit after the City Council voted last week to take legal action to close down Buddy's Cannabis Patient Collective, which he runs with a dozen other members.
The dispensary opened April 10 at 2632 Bayshore Parkway despite Mountain View's temporary ban, which took effect in March and was supposed to buy the city time to craft regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries — an idea which, ironically, a council majority seems to support.
The central issue in Lucero's lawsuit is whether Mountain View's temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is legal under state law. But that question may soon be settled in an appellate court in Southern California in the case of Qualified Patients Association vs. the City of Anaheim, which could decide the legality of that city's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. A ruling in that case, expected within the next few months, could have major implications for city bans on dispensaries statewide.
If Anaheim wins, Lucero said, he will continue his lawsuit in hopes a Northern California appellate court disagrees. "Then it goes to California Supreme Court — that's my strategy," he said.
"I'm going to spend millions of my own money to do this," he added. "Maybe they will fine me thousands of dollars a day. Maybe they will fine our landlord. I already told them — 'I'll pay it.'"
But if Anaheim loses its case, "basically we win," Lucero said.
Interim city attorney Jannie Quinn is named as a defendant in the case along with the city itself. "I'm going after her personally because she's lied to me," Lucero said.
He claims that in a visit to the dispensary a few weeks ago, "She said she was impressed and invited me to draft an ordinance" for medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
"She said she was looking forward to helping sick people of Mountain View," he said. But after looking into it more, he said, it was apparent that "She's been the catalyst of the (city's opposition) the whole time."
Quinn was not available for comment by press time.
Lucero's suit demands that the city pay the dispensary's legal fees along with damages for "emotional distress, mental anguish, physical pain and suffering" for violating the dispensary's "constitutional rights."
He says he's fighting for Mountain View's "downtrodden" — "over 200 qualified patients" who need medical marijuana for various health conditions, "folks arriving on bicycles, wheelchairs and with canes" who Lucero says have thanked him profusely for opening the only dispensary in the area.
The city has yet to file its own lawsuit, but Lucero said he expects one by the end of the week. The city has hired an outside law firm, San Francisco-based Hanson Bridgett, to handle the case.
E-mail Daniel DeBolt at email@example.com