Pot club to stay open at least a few more days
Judge refuses city's demand for immediate injunction
The operator of Mountain View's only marijuana dispensary was elated Wednesday about a judge's reluctance to immediately shut down the dispensary at the city's request.
Santa Clara County superior court Judge Joseph Huber took the case under "advisement" and could make a decision on whether to shut Buddy's Cannabis Patient Collective down in a few days, said Matt Lucero, who operates Buddy's on Bayshore Parkway.
Lucero, a former corporate attorney, said he was impressed by Huber, who cleared his schedule Wednesday morning, June 2, to focus on the case. "He seemed to have very significant problem with approving an injunction this early," Lucero said.
Attorneys representing the city of Mountain View are seeking a preliminary injunction to immediately shut down Buddy's, which was anticipated Wednesday. The city is also seeking a permanent injunction that could be granted after a jury trial.
The city's attorneys argue that the city has the right to shut down Buddy's under the city's zoning policies and its moratorium on dispensaries that went into effect in March. Lucero believes state law, including proposition 215, supersedes the city's right to shut down the dispensary and believes he has a case that could go to the state Supreme Court
The city's moratorium was put in place before the dispensary opened in April, in order to buy the city time to draft regulations allowing dispensaries. Lucero believes his dispensary already meets all of the requirements that he heard the City Council consider in a discussion Tuesday night.
"Everything they said they wanted we already do," Lucero said. "At the same time they are using taxpayer money to shut us down, which they might not succeed in."
"Our position is that if you want to trample our constitutional rights and freedoms, you have to a compelling reason," Lucero said.
City Attorney Jannie Quinn did not respond to emails and phone calls about the case on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Pot clubs everywhere?
Lucero admitted Tuesday that if the injunction is not granted, Mountain View would probably see "10 more dispensaries in a month."
"The last thing I want to see is this unorganized group setting up dispensaries," Lucero said. "If the city loses the injunction, the message to all the dispensary wannabes is to go ahead and set up your dispensary. It's just going to get ridiculous"
Nevertheless, the venture has been worthwhile as a form of "social activism," Lucero said, because it provides convenient access for a large number of sick people and it shows the city how a dispensary could function in Mountain View. It was a real-life "experiment," Lucero said.
Lucero said the dispensary has brought in $87,000 in the seven weeks it has been open and has almost 600 members. He claims that the average age of his members is 47.
Lucero plans to open another dispensary in San Jose within a month. If Buddy's is shuttered, he said that store opening would happen much sooner because his employees would have nothing else to do.
In that case, "Mountain View residents are not going to have legal safe access to medicine anymore," Lucero said. "They will be procuring it on the black market in unsafe conditions. They will start growing it on their own and their homes, which will become targets of burglary and assault."
E-mail Daniel DeBolt at firstname.lastname@example.org