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Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | South Bay | Drug War
Santa Cruz Medical MJ Collective Protected from DEA Raids, Court Says
by ASA
Wednesday Apr 21st, 2004 10:08 PM
Landmark Judgment Today: Seriously Ill Patients of Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana
Collective Protected From Federal DEA Raids
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Tony
Newman
April 21, 2004
(212) 613-8026



Landmark Judgment Today: Seriously Ill Patients of Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana
Collective Protected From Federal DEA Raids



Court Grants Injunction Allowing WAMM Members to Grow and Use Their Medicine



Teleconference 3:30 PM PST, April 21 2004 Featuring Plaintiffs, Legal Team and Santa
Cruz Elected Officials



San Jose, CA. Eighteen months after a brutal DEA raid on a medical marijuana
collective in Santa Cruz, California, the seriously ill collective members finally
got the protection from future raids and harassment they have sought since filing
suit against the federal government one year ago. After reconsidering his earlier
decision in the high profile case County of Santa Cruz et al. v. Ashcroft, Judge
Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California has granted Plaintiffs a
preliminary injunction and denied the government's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs'
complaint. Today's ruling will protect the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
(WAMM) while the lawsuit is pending, and allow the collective to resume cultivation.



The Drug Policy Alliance, along with the law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP, the Santa
Cruz City Attorney and co-counsel Prof. Gerald Uelmen and Ben Rice, represent
Plaintiffs in this case. "In the face of overzealous federal law enforcement, for
the first time a court has applied the law in a way that protects the right of a
group of sick people to grow and share their medicine without fear," said Judy
Appel, Director of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Today's decision
affirms the right of WAMM's members to cultivate and use marijuana for medicinal
purposes free from federal interference," stated Neha Shah Nissen, an attorney with
Bingham McCutchen. "The federal government can no longer ignore the will of the
people of the State of California and the City and County of Santa Cruz to protect
the health and welfare of terminally and chronically ill individuals."



"We applaud the Court's decision and we are profoundly pleased as we prepare to
replant our garden," said Valerie Corral, co-founder of WAMM. "But we also steady
ourselves for a tug of war with the present administration's unwillingness to honor
the democratic process."



******************************************************************************



WHEN: Wednesday, April 21, at 3:30 PM PST/ 6:30 PM EST



WHO: Valerie Corral, Founder, WAMM

Emily Reilly, Santa Cruz City Council Member, Former Mayor of Santa Cruz

Harold Margolin, Patient, WAMM

Neha Nissen, Co-Counsel

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance





HOW: Call number 1 (877) 270-2156 pass code: 120769



******************************************************************************



This case involves the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a collective
of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. WAMM was raided by 30 federal
DEA agents on September 24, 2002. These agents held the collective's founders and a
patient at gunpoint while they confiscated 167 plants. The founders, Valerie and
Mike Corral, were taken into police custody but never charged with a crime. After
the raid, the City and County of Santa Cruz joined WAMM and seven patient members in
suing the federal government.



County of Santa Cruz, et. al. v. Ashcroft, challenges the authority of the federal
government to conduct medical marijuana raids and focuses on the constitutional
right of terminally and chronically ill patients to control the circumstances of
their own pain relief and ultimately their deaths-a right recognized by the Supreme
Court. On August 28, 2003, Judge Fogel denied Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
injunction, which would have protected the collective from future raids while the
case was pending, and granted the government's motion to dismiss the case.



However, Plaintiffs asked Judge Fogel to reconsider his ruling in the WAMM case
earlier this year in light of a landmark December 2003 decision by the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in Raich v. Ashcroft. In the Raich case, the Court ruled that John
Ashcroft and the Bush administration had improperly applied the Commerce Clause to
the plaintiffs' intrastate activity. The Court reasoned that when a patient is
growing his or her own marijuana or a caregiver is growing it for the patient, there
is no substantial effect on interstate commerce. No marijuana traveled between
states in the Raich case, and there was no commercial activity involved. The Court
ruled that the federal government lacked jurisdiction under the Controlled
Substances Act to interfere with the plaintiffs' activity.



The facts of the WAMM case are almost identical to those in Raich; the WAMM
collective is a group of terminally and chronically ill patients and their
caregivers who grow and use their medicine with the recommendation of their
physicians in compliance with state law and local ordinances. No one is charged
money for the medicine, and therefore there is no effect on interstate commerce.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Raich specifically criticized Judge Fogel's
initial decision in the WAMM case, stating that the Court had erred in its analysis.




The Raich decision and the District Court's subsequent ruling in Plaintiffs' favor
in the WAMM case have given new hope to the members of the collective, who suffer
from cancer, AIDS, chronic pain and other serious illnesses..



Since the 2002 raid on the collective, over 25 WAMM members have died and the supply
of medicine for remaining patients has dwindled while the legal battles continue.
One of the seven patient plaintiffs in the WAMM case, Dorothy Gibbs, who began using
medical marijuana at the age of 86 to ease the pain she suffered as a result of
Post-Polio Syndrome, passed away three weeks ago.











Elizabeth Méndez Berry

Deputy Director of Communications

Drug Policy Alliance

(212) 613-8036

eberry [at] drugpolicy.org


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