Pubdate: Sat, 4 Jul 2009
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Genevieve Bookwalter
Cited: Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana


SANTA CRUZ -- A state appeals court in Sacramento this week ruled 
that medical marijuana patients can sue over raids by local law 
enforcement, but county authorities aren't too worried as local rules 
spell out when and where such raids are allowed.

"It's the sheriff's department's policy to protect medical marijuana 
patients," said Sgt. Mark Yanez with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

However, he said, when patients break rules or use their medical 
cards to cover up illegal drug sales, his department still cracks down.

Wednesday's ruling came from the 3rd District Court of Appeals in 
Sacramento, and addressed a Butte County lawsuit filed after a 
sheriff's deputy there ordered a member of a medical marijuana 
collective to destroy three-quarters of the more than 40 plants on 
his property or be arrested, according to media reports. The man 
complied, then sued for damages against the county and the deputy. 
Wednesday's decision gave the man permission to carry his case forward.

Medical marijuana is legal under state law but illegal under federal 
law, although the Obama administration has said it does not plan to 
file charges against medical marijuana cooperatives.

Yanez said he doesn't expect Wednesday's court ruling to affect his 
department because "when we do an investigation, we do a thorough 
one." Often, he said, the violators are obvious: "We've had people 
renting houses for $5,500 a month and they have no job. They're 
traveling the world and living like rock stars," and using medical 
marijuana cards as a front to grow marijuana and sell it illegally.

Raids are nothing new in Santa Cruz, though, although situations have 
varied from the most recent one in Butte County.

For example, a 2002 raid at the Davenport home of Valerie and Mike 
Corral, founders of medical marijuana collective Wo/Men's Alliance 
for Medical Marijuana, was conducted by federal officers.

The Corrals also sued, although the two were released and never 
charged. A federal judge last year issued an injunction against 
interfering with the Corrals' marijuana garden and nonprofit 
collective, and they continue to provide for terminally and 
chronically ill patients.

Last year, Santa Cruz police raided a Pacific Avenue storefront that 
claimed to be an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients but 
which officers said was a front for illegally selling pot. Five men 
were arrested, while two pounds of marijuana, packaged for sale, hash 
and baked goods were confiscated. 
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