Pubdate: Sun, 25 Apr 2004
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff Writer
Cited: Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
Bookmark: (WAMM)
Bookmark: (Santa Cruz v. Ashcroft)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Valerie Corral had just finished a conversation with an ill friend
Wednesday when the phone rang.

This time there was good news, unlike much of what had come over the
past two years.

In September 2002, her medical marijuana garden was raided by federal
agents who confiscated 167 plants. This was followed by months of
scrapping together marijuana for the 250-member Wo/men's Alliance for
Medical Marijuana.

This week's news: U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel issued the
injunction that WAMM had sought barring future raids by the federal
government like the one that occurred that September morning at her
Davenport garden.

"It was pretty weird," Corral said. "I immediately called (husband)

Last week's ruling is another chapter in WAMM's life. The group had
seen a rise in its legitimacy, at least locally, only to then face
persecution by the federal government.

The federal government contends medical marijuana rules in states that
have them, like California, are trumped by federal rules, which bar
marijuana under almost any circumstance. But the recent case didn't
involve a conflict of states' rights.

The case was decided based on the application of interstate commerce
laws in the U.S. Constitution.

The stage was set late last year when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals, in a separate case, ruled that the 1970 Controlled Substances
Act may not apply to medical marijuana users if the marijuana isn't
being bought or sold and not being transported across state lines.
Should the latter occur, the interstate commerce clause of the
Constitution would apply.

The decision offered a ray of hope for WAMM, a cooperative in which
members grow marijuana for one another and no money changes hands.
Attorneys for the group used the ruling in their quest of an
injunction against future raids.

For now, the Corrals and WAMM colleagues can bask in a tempered
victory -- one they know could be fleeting and one that frees many of
them to concentrate on more pressing matters, like living with chronic

"One minute you are looking over your shoulder and wondering what next
might come that will cause more suffering and loss," Corral said by

"With this decision comes the greatest gift. For this time, we don't
have to be afraid," she added.

However, WAMM members and their attorneys know that the victory is
tenuous, a fight expected to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The government admittedly continues to examine Fogel's decision and
plot its next move.

"We're reviewing the court's opinion and we've made no determination,"
Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller told the Sentinel Friday.

Mike Corral said the group would now plant its medicinal herb garden
and operate as it used to.

"We're going to go ahead and plant a garden," Mike Corral said. "The
need is there, it's real."

Santa Cruz attorney Ben Rice, a member of WAMM's legal team, said the
ruling should give the cooperative enough time to make it through a
harvest this fall.

"We're at least a year and a half, maybe two years, from anything
happening," Rice said. "I think they are good through the summer of

While Tuesday's decision breaks new ground, so do the origins of the
suit. The city and county of Santa Cruz took the unusual step of
joining the cooperative as plaintiffs.

"There was no hesitation on the Board of Supervisors in supporting
this suit," Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt said. "I think we all saw it as
a question of patient rights. I am proud the county signed on because
it was a strong suit."

Valerie Corral said that support from the community is humbling.

"It takes a lot of trust," she said. "Mike and I both hope we can live
up to that. It's so important for us to be clean and clear and
transparent and truthful. WAMM can only do this because of our
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake