Pubdate: Thu, 05 May 2005
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2005 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Elise Kleeman
Bookmark: (Ashcroft, John)
Bookmark: ( Raich v. Ashcroft)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)


Don't Expect To Burn One Down, It's A Meet-And-Greet Event

SANTA CRUZ -- If you've got the munchies, DeLaveaga Park is the place to be 

 From noon to 5 p.m. at Lone Tree picnic area, marijuana supporters will 
meet for the local celebration of the Million Marijuana March.

There, the UC Santa Cruz chapters of the National Organization for the 
Reform of Marijuana Laws and Students for Sensible Drug Policy will host a 
barbecue they hope will be an opportunity for members of the local 
marijuana community to come together and meet each other.

"We'd like people to see they're not so alone, especially if they're 
medical marijuana patients," said local SSDP member Daniel Bear, a senior 
at UCSC.

The Santa Cruz picnic is one of 200 gatherings in 37 countries to celebrate 
the Million Marijuana March. New York-based pot advocacy group Cures Not 
Wars first organized the international event about 30 years ago.

"It's been so criminalized that people are sort of in the closet about it," 
said Ritika Aggarwal, a UCSC junior and founder of the school's NORML 
chapter. "This is their chance to step out."

The focus will be on socializing, not politics, said Bear. As well as food, 
his group is bringing Frisbees, footballs and lawn bowling sets.

The picnic will also be an opportunity to prepare for the Supreme Court 
ruling in the case Raich v. Ashcroft, Aggarwal said. At stake is the 
federal government's authority over marijuana grown and used legally 
according to state and local laws.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of former U.S. Attorney General John 
Ashcroft -- the decision may come later this month -- one casualty could be 
the pot farm run by Santa Cruz's Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

In 2002, Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the farm, tearing up 
150 plants just weeks before the annual harvest. The farm is currently 
protected by a federal judge's injunction, making it the only legal 
marijuana farm in the country.

But "their injunction will be dropped in 60 days if this comes down 
negative," Aggarwal said.

Valerie Corral, WAMM founder, will not be able to attend the picnic, but 
said it will be a great meet-and-greet opportunity and "maybe to dispel the 
mythology that has been erroneously assigned to the use of some drugs."

Those coming shouldn't count on showing up to a cloud of pot smoke.

"This is a family friendly event," Bear said. "I have no doubt that someone 
will spark up, but we are going to ask them not to. We aren't baking any 
special brownies, we aren't handing out any joints when you show up."
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