Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


In hopes of stopping federal agents from again raiding a farm that provides
marijuana to sick and dying people, Santa Cruz officials said they will file
a lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Drug Enforcement

Attorneys representing the city and county of Santa Cruz, as well as seven
medical marijuana users, said Monday they plan to file the papers Wednesday
in San Jose federal court.

"The city of Santa Cruz wants to prevent raids on medical marijuana. This is
a public health issue to this community," said Santa Cruz City Attorney John
Barisone on Monday.

The lawsuit comes in response to a DEA raid last September at a small pot
farm located on a quiet coastal road about 15 miles north of town. Agents
uprooted about 165 plants and arrested the owners, Valerie and Michael

The raid outraged local officials, who have since sponsored a medical
marijuana giveaway from the steps of City Hall. They also deputized the
Corrals, who are the founders the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana,
allowing them to cultivate, distribute and possess medical marijuana under a
city ordinance.

Lawyers for Santa Cruz said the lawsuit will claim that the seven patient
plaintiffs have had their medicine substantially decreased since the raid,
and that WAMM has been unable to provide its patients with necessary
medicine. This has caused an "insurmountable" level of pain and suffering
and hastened the deaths of the most vulnerable WAMM members, lawyers said.

The lawsuit, to filed as County of Santa Cruz v. Ashcroft et. al, asks the
federal courts to enjoin the federal government from raiding the WAMM
gardens in the future.

DEA spokesman Richard Meyer in San Francisco said Monday he could not
comment on pending litigation, but that his agency's mission is very clear:
"To enforce the Controlled Substances Act."

Marijuana is an illegal drug under that law. 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

Meyer said that raiding medical marijuana clubs and farms is the DEA's duty.

"Our goal is to seize illegal drugs and arrest the perpetrators and bring
them to justice," he said.

Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen, one of several attorneys
representing the medical marijuana users, has said this case could be an
important step toward ending the legal contradiction between state and
federal laws.

Last May, the Supreme Court ruled that people charged with violating federal
drug laws cannot use medical necessity their defense. But Uelmen said the
justices left open whether states could legalize medical marijuana under the
10th Amendment, which grants states powers not exercised by the federal
government, or under the 14th Amendment's right to due process.

Community members in this liberal central California community repeatedly
have supported medical marijuana.

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