Pubdate: Tue,  5 Nov 2002
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2002 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Janice Rombeck, Mercury News
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


U.S. Agents Seized Marijuana From Davenport Couple

Arguing that drug enforcement agents had no authority to raid a Davenport 
medicinal marijuana farm, an attorney on Monday asked a federal judge to 
order the 167 plants be returned to the operators.

Gerald Uelmen also asked for the return of a video, a photo album and 
documents taken during the Sept. 5 raid on a farm run by Michael and 
Valerie Corral for the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel heard arguments from Uelmen and Mark 
Quinlivan, a Washington attorney representing the U.S. Drug Enforcement 
Administration, which ordered the raid. The Corrals were never charged with 
a crime.

Fogel said after the 30-minute hearing he would issue a ruling as soon as 
he could. Attorneys believe it may come in two weeks.

The Corrals filed a suit last month to get back their confiscated cannabis, 
arguing that the alliance is a cooperative that grows the marijuana for its 
members, people who are terminally ill and covered under California's 
Proposition 215, approved by voters in 1996.

Federal drug law enforcers maintain that the raid was legal and that 
returning the pot would risk the illegal drug being sold on the streets. 
Quinlivan said, however, that the video, photos and documents could be 
returned within the week.

At issue on Monday was whether the federal government overstepped its 
authority under the 10th Amendment to regulate interstate commerce. Because 
the alliance members grow marijuana for their own use, there is no 
distribution across state lines and no commercial activity, Uelmen said at 
the hearing.

``This case is unique,'' he said. ``They are a cooperative venture growing 
their own. The federal government came in and took medicine out of the 
hands of the patients.''

Quinlivan disagreed. ``We don't agree that there is no distribution,'' he 
said. ``There are caretakers coming in. We do think there is distribution.''

WAMM grows and distributes free marijuana to 250 patients with AIDS, cancer 
and other diseases who have written approval from their doctors. WAMM has 
operated under an agreement with the Santa Cruz County sheriff's office 
since Proposition 215 was approved.

Without marijuana, Uelmen said, patients are ``condemned to a more 
painfully agonizing death.''

After the hearing, Valerie Corral said she was encouraged. The suit was a 
necessary ``next step'' in advocating for medicinal marijuana use. ``It's 
going to be a long journey, but one we're prepared for,'' she said.

Uelmen lauded a federal appeals court ruling last week that found it 
unconstitutional to punish a doctor who recommends marijuana to patients 
because it violates the First Amendment and interferes with the 
doctor-patient relationship. The suit was filed by the American Civil 
Liberties Union on behalf of a group of Northern California doctors and 

``There's a broader battle to be fought in Congress,'' Uelmen said, ``But 
step one is to recognize the rights of patients to grow their own 
medication in their own back yards.''
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