Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 16, 2010
Fighter for Sacramento dispensaries seizes the pot light

RCB_20100311_Marijuana_ 113.JPGWith bandages running up both sides of his neck, Ryan Landers cast a poignant profile as he stepped into the old Sacramento City Hall last Thursday. He turned out for the hearing on a plan to cap dispensaries in the capital city at a dozen and impose strict rules on their operations.

"I think there is still a chance to work with them on this," Landers said as he prepared to address city staff on what to do about 39 registered marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento. "But we might have to get vocal."

On that front, he didn't disappoint. After interim Sacramento City Manager Gus Vina said the city was looking for measured input on "an emotional issue," Landers let loose.

"These proposal would kill me and other patients in similar situations," he said in an emotionally-charged speech.

Landers, the state director for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, long ago learned how to seize the public stage for the cause of his life.

Landers, who said he was bandaged Thursday after 10 shots of pain killers for arthritis and swelling due to effects of shingles, was an AIDS patient and Sacramento County director of Californians for Compassionate Use during the 1996 campaign that passed the Proposition 215 medical marijuana initiative.

In a Sacramento Bee story on the local dispensary boom, he told reporter Gina Kim he believes he was infected as the result of a back-alley tattoo in 1995. He said he smokes pot to relieve intense nausea and boost his appetite.

In his profile for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, he describes his unsuccessful attempt to open the Capitol City Cannabis Buyers Club, his test case arrest on smoking pot in public and his successful insurance claim for the loss of $10,000 of marijuana in a home-invasion robbery.

He casts himself now as a stalwart fighting to preserve the local medical pot trade.

"We're self-policing and self-regulating and we're trying to make sure neighborhoods are safe and secure," Landers said.

The City Council is due to weigh in, with a vote on a dispensary ordinance expected in April or May, on whether or not it agrees with him.

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