Pubdate: Fri, 11 Oct 2002
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2002 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Roxanne Stites


Citing a "clear conflict between federal and state law," San Jose Police 
Chief William Lansdowne has pulled his officers from the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration task force that raided a medicinal marijuana 
farm in Santa Cruz County last month.

"It's an issue of priority," Lansdowne said. "The problem in California and 
in San Jose is clearly methamphetamine, and that's where we intend to put 
our resources."

San Jose's four officers and one sergeant on the DEA-led task force have 
been reassigned to the city's drug unit and to the state Bureau of 
Narcotics Enforcement task force.

On Sept. 5, federal drug agents raided a nationally known cooperative that 
grows medicinal marijuana in the hills near Davenport. They confiscated 167 
marijuana plants and arrested founders Valerie and Michael Corral, who grow 
and distribute marijuana for free to AIDS, cancer and neurological patients 
who have their doctors' approval.

The organization -- WAMM, or Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana -- has 
operated under an agreement with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department 
since 1996, when California voters approved Proposition 215, legalizing 
medicinal marijuana.

The Corrals were released from custody within hours of their arrests and 
have since filed suit to get the cannabis back. The U.S. Attorney's Office 
is reviewing the case and hasn't decided whether to file charges, federal 
officials said.

"I guess the chief thinks our priorities are somewhat misguided, and he's 
entitled to have his opinion," said DEA spokesman Richard Meyer. "We have 
great respect for the San Jose Police Department," said DEA spokesman 
Richard Meyer. "But we feel very differently. We feel the president and the 
American public expect us to enforce the laws and we have a mandate. We're 
committed to that."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth