Pubdate: Wed, 18 Sep 2002
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2002 Austin American-Statesman
Author: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times


City Hall Defiant After Medicinal Marijuana Bust In Santa Cruz

SAN FRANCISCO -- Officials in the ultra-liberal seaside town of Santa Cruz 
may not be marijuana smokers themselves, but on Tuesday they became pot 
purveyors with a political cause.

In a display of defiance triggered by a recent federal bust of a local 
medical marijuana club, Mayor Christopher Krohn and numerous City Council 
members met outside City Hall to join workers from the Women's Alliance for 
Medical Marijuana in dispensing the drug to sick patients.

Several hundred residents filled the town's City Hall plaza to cheer 
speakers and throw an old-fashioned anti-government rally.

Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Emily Reilly said suppliers drew names from a hat to 
symbolically hand out pot prescriptions to a dozen patients who would have 
normally picked up their medication in private Tuesday. Each time the drug 
was dispensed, she said, the crowd went wild.

"What was best were the speeches," Reilly said. "There were medical 
marijuana attorneys, doctors and even a county supervisor. And the message 
was about love and healing and trying to alleviate suffering."

Six of seven council members appeared, along with Krohn.

But Richard Meyer, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman in San 
Francisco, said he was not amused.

"We're dismayed that the City Council and the mayor of Santa Cruz would 
condone the distribution of marijuana," he said. "I don't know what they're 
thinking, but they're flouting federal law. And we here at the DEA take 
violations of the law very seriously."

On Sept. 5, federal agents raided a Santa Cruz medical marijuana 
collective, arrested three people and confiscated 130 plants.

The move was met with outrage by residents of this surfers' haven and 
college town 75 miles south of San Francisco.

Marijuana -- medical or otherwise -- is illegal under federal law. But 
under California law, the drug is legal if it is recommended by a doctor.

Four years before state voters approved Proposition 215, allowing marijuana 
for medicinal purposes, Santa Cruz residents -- by a margin of 77 percent 
- -- approved a measure ending the prohibition of medical marijuana.

Santa Cruz authorities have cooperated with local collectives for years, 
helping set standards for medicinal marijuana use, issuing IDs and looking 
the other way as suppliers provided free, organically grown marijuana.

A recorded message at the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana on Tuesday 
stressed that the event was not a "free pot giveaway" and that the drug 
would be distributed only to "certain patients with support of many city 
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