Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2007
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Sean Aronson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


SAN JOSE -- A Santa Cruz marijuana collective raided by  federal
agents in 2002 made its case for the right to  grow medical pot in
court Friday.

Though no ruling was issued, supporters of the group,  Wo/Men's
Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said they're  encouraged by the
judge's response.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel heard arguments  on the federal
government's motion to dismiss the suit,  which alleges the raid five
years ago at WAMM's  Davenport garden was outside the law, given the
legality of medical marijuana in California. The county  and city of
Santa Cruz are signed on as plaintiffs in  the suit.

Many court observers believed Fogel would dismiss the  case because of
precedent to support federal law over  state law. But he did not rule
Friday, saying he would  release a decision at a later date, providing
hope for  WAMM supporters.

"I'm quite optimistic after today's proceedings," said  Gerald Uelman,
a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Uelman said  Fogel took the arguments
under serious consideration  and "appeared persuaded"

Fogel did not specify when his ruling would be  released.

Uelman and a team of lawyers representing WAMM argued  that, under the
10th Amendment, the federal government  cannot intervene in the
affairs of the state, unless  explicitly stated in the Constitution.
The lawyers said  this was especially true as it concerns an
individual's  right to medicine.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, the  Compassionate
Use Act, making marijuana legal for  medical purposes.

But all marijuana use is illegal under to the federal  Controlled
Substances Act, hence the conflict.

The case represents one of the first challenges to the  federal
government's authority to raid marijuana grown  exclusively for
medical use since the 9th Circuit ruled  in favor of the government in
the case of Gonzales v.  Raich earlier this year.

In that ruling, the 9th Circuit Court said the federal  government had
the authority to confiscate marijuana  from Angel Raich, an Oakland
woman using medical  marijuana. The defense unsuccessfully argued
Raich had  a legal right to use marijuana because of medical  necessity.

The current case stems from a federal raid at WAMM's  Davenport farm
in September 2002. More than 20 armed  federal agents descended on the
property, arrested  owners Valerie and Michael Corral and seized 165
pot  plants. Neither were charged in the aftermath of the  raid, but
their plants were not returned.

More than 50 WAMM members were in attendance Friday to  support the
attorneys representing the collective. At  least 15 people were not
allowed inside due to  overcrowding.

"I think the judge realizes this impacts a lot of  people," said Hal
Margolin, a plaintiff. Margolin has  been a member of WAMM for seven
years and suffers from  leukemia. He said he is hopeful the case will
be  allowed to proceed.

Lawyers representing the U.S. Attorney's Office could  not be reached
for comment.

The case is County of Santa Cruz v. Alberto Gonzales.
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