Publication Date: Friday, September 02, 2005
(September 02, 2005) MV man wants to establish local pot club, but council members are leery
By Jon Wiener
Jonathan Lustig was in third grade at St. Joseph's elementary when he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder and severe migraine headaches. Doctors prescribed Ritalin, codeine and a host of other drugs, he says, but none of them worked.
It wasn't until several years later, while a student at St. Francis High School, that Lustig discovered the one drug that seemed to cure his problems without leaving him with crippling side effects. But that drug, marijuana, is impossible to obtain legally, even with a prescription.
Lustig says that once he realized pot's medicinal properties, he took up the goal of legalizing it for medical use. To further that goal, the smoker-turned-activist appeared before city council members Tuesday night for the second time in two weeks, in an effort to get their blessing for the first medicinal marijuana facility in his hometown of Mountain View.
"There are people out there much worse than me," said Lustig. "A lot of them can't make an hour-and-a-half to drive to the East Bay" where he is a member at a cannabis club.
Lustig says that he is ready to open a club right here -- he just needs clearance from the city. He has met several times with the city planning department and feels that officials are using red tape to keep him from opening his business.
California voters overwhelmingly approved the so-called California Compassionate Use Act in 1996, legalizing marijuana for prescribed medical uses. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June allowed federal agents to raid the clubs where it is distributed, making many cities nervous about allowing new clubs to open.
City attorney Michael Martello said he believes federal law supersedes state law, despite direction from the state Attorney General's Office that the ruling did not overturn California law. He said city code does not specifically allow for a pot club, but would allow a licensed pharmacist to sell it on site.
At least one council member has said he is interested in discussing Lustig's proposal, but others noted there are concerns about community acceptance and proximity to schools, not to mention the prospect of federal intervention.
"You're going to have federal officers coming in here and enforcing rules," said council member Tom Means. "Given that ruling, which I disagree with, I don't see much useful in saying, 'Let's do this.'"
Lustig said that while those arguments are valid, they're missing the heart of the matter.
"I believe that all patients should be entitled to safe and affordable and practical means for obtaining their medicine," he said.
"I was taking amphetamines and heroin when I was a child," he said, referring to the narcotics his prescription pills were derived from, "and there's a problem with me medicating with cannabis instead?"
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