Pubdate: Fri, 13 Sep 2002
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2002 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Martha Mendoza, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


SANTA CRUZ -(AP)- City leaders plan to join medical marijuana users at a pot
giveaway at City Hall next week. Their goal is to send a message to federal
authorities that, in this town, medical marijuana is welcome. 

The invitation comes one week after agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency
arrested the high-profile owners of a pot farm and confiscated 130 plants
that had been grown to be used as medicine. 

"It's just absolutely loathsome to me that federal money, energy and staff
time would be used to harass people like this," said Vice Mayor Emily
Reilly, who with several colleagues on the City Council plans to help pass
out medical marijuana to sick people from the garden-like courtyard at City
Hall on Tuesday. 

City Attorney John Barisone said that although the City Council did pass a
resolution denouncing the raid, there is no official city sponsorship of the
event, but that council members and medical marijuana advocates are acting
on their own accord in a public space.

DEA spokesman Richard Meyer was surprised at the plan. 

"Are you serious? That's illegal. It's like they're flouting federal law,"
he said. "I'm shocked that city leaders would promote the use of marijuana
that way. What is that saying to our youth?" 

On Thursday, federal agents -- acting without support from state and local
law enforcement -- raided a small pot farm located on a quiet coastal road
about 55 miles south of San Francisco, arresting the owners, Valerie and
Michael Corral. 

Their attorney, Ben Rice, said he was informed by the DEA that the U.S.
attorney has declined to prosecute the case. A spokeswoman for the U.S.
Attorney's Office said she could not comment on the case, and DEA spokesman
Meyer said his agency isn't involved in decisions on whether to prosecute. 

State law in California, as well as Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada,
Oregon and Washington, allows marijuana to be grown and distributed to
people with a doctor's prescription. Federal law, on the other hand,
prohibits marijuana use under any circumstances. 

California medical marijuana growers and distributors work closely with
local law enforcement and are quite open about their programs. In fact, the
farm raided Thursday morning by DEA agents had been featured in national
media, and the program is listed in the local telephone book. 

But in recent months, federal agents -- working strictly without local
support -- have been busting pot clubs and farms in Northern California. 

"The DEA has gone too far with these cruel and utterly pointless actions,"
said Robert Kampia, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based
Marijuana Policy Project. "The courage of the Santa Cruz City Council and
the growing anger in Congress are signs of a genuine grass-roots rebellion
all across this country that will put an end to these attacks on the sick
and vulnerable." 

In 1992, 77 percent of Santa Cruz voters approved a measure ending the
medical prohibition of marijuana. Four years later, state voters --
including 74 percent of those in Santa Cruz -- approved Proposition 215,
allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes. And then again, in 2000, the city
council approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana to be grown and
used without a prescription.
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