Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jul 2010
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: J. M. Brown


SANTA CRUZ - After the last several WAMMFests encountered challenges,
organizers of Santa Cruz's annual medical marijuana awareness event
appear to be in for an easier time getting the city's nod of approval.

Today, the City Council will consider lifting a smoking ban at San
Lorenzo Park for five hours Sept. 25 to allow authorized pot users to
medicate inside open-air tents designed to create privacy. The item is
on the council's consent agenda, indicating that it may not be as
controversial as in years past.

"For the city, it's a matter of course," Mayor Mike Rotkin

The event will run from noon to 5 p.m. Admission to the event is free
and open to the public, but if the council OKs temporarily lifting the
ban, organizers will allow smoking marijuana only in a separate tent.
Medical marijuana identification will be required.

Last year, an oversight kept the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical
Marijuana's annual request for a smoking exemption from landing on a
council agenda in time for the event. Instead, the group put its tent
on county property near the usual site. Police issued two citations
for smoking on park property but otherwise applauded WAMM for holding
the event in a responsible manner.

In 2008, a philosophical divide on the council nearly kept marijuana
users from legally participating. Three council members supported
lifting the smoking ban but three others were opposed. The tie
couldn't be broken that night because a seventh council member was
absent, but a compromise proposed two weeks later called for lifting
the ban only for the tented area.

This year's measure calls for lifting the smoking ban in the entire
park, but urges the organizers "to designate a specific enclosed
location for medical marijuana treatment." Councilman Don Lane said he
supports the measure because WAMM has acted responsibly in hosting
previous events. "They have a good reason for wanting to allow it in
just this one instance."

Valerie Corral, co-founder of WAMM, said volunteers will monitor the
park, asking people who are smoking marijuana to show their medical
authorization cards so the event doesn't "turn into hemp-fest." "It's
just really is to keep the focus on the justices that have been met in
our own community and on the state level," Corral said. "We're
bringing awareness to an ongoing issue, marijuana as medicine, and the
kind of marginalization that still occurs for people who are seriously
ill." The past year has seen a lot of movement on the medicinal
marijuana front.

In January, WAMM suspended a lawsuit against the federal government on
the condition that the Drug Enforcement Agency respect state medical
marijuana rules. The DEA raided WAMM's garden and arrested Corral and
her husband, Mike, during a 2002 raid, but the Obama administration
announced in October that it would stop prosecuting patients or
caregivers in states with medical marijuana provisions. California
voters approved medical marijuana in 1996.

Also this year, over the pleas of patients to expand options, the City
Council limited medical pot dispensaries in Santa Cruz to the two
operating in the Harvey West area. However, the council now allows the
pot shops to open seven days a week and grow more of their own supply


WHAT: Annual WAMMFest event by the Wo/Men"s Alliance for Medical
Marijuana to raise awareness of medical marijuana use. The public
event is free. If the city agrees Tuesday to temporarily lift a
smoking ban in the park for the event, using marijuana will be allowed
only in a separate tent and with a medical marijuana identification

WHEN: Noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 25

WHERE: San Lorenzo Park, 137 Dakota Ave.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit or call 831-425-0580. 
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