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WAMM Official Press Release
Wamm Press Release - Sept 5th, 2002
Wamm Press Release - Sept 5th, 2002:
On Thursday September 5, the DEA raided the garden of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, and the homes of Michael and Valerie Corral. WAMM, a collective of severely and terminally ill people who grow medical marijuana for their own use, has been an integral, if unacknowledged, part of Santa Cruz’s public health system since 1993.
While DEA officials used chainsaws to destroy about 150 marijuana plants which patients have cultivated on several acres near Davenport, patients gathered, some in wheelchairs, and blocked the entrance to the land, effectively leaving the DEA agents with no way out but over them. After negotiations, facilitated by agents from the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office, the patients agreed to peacefully disperse in exchange for a promise to release the Corrals immediately.
WAMM is a collective of patients and caregivers, 85% with terminal illnesses. The organization differs from buyers clubs in its interactive, supportive community environment and the fact that neither WAMM nor any person representing WAMM, engages in the purchase or sale of marijuana. In a collaborative effort they care for seriously ill members by delivering medicine, food, rides to meetings and other in-home aid. Sometimes individual patients cultivate their own gardens as part of the WAMM Cultivation partnership Program; or work in a communal garden. This communal garden was the one destroyed today by the DEA raid; without it, many people in terminal stages of cancer and aids who have been bankrupted by their diseases will now be without their medication as well.
Santa Cruz CA, Sep 5. The Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana was raided by a team of armed DEA agents early this morning with no prior warning to the local sheriff. Agents woke patients residing on the property at gunpoint and handcuffed them. WAMM Director Valerie Corral and Mike Corral were arrested and taken to the federal building in San Jose. They were later released without charges pending possible criminal indictment, leaving them in legal limbo (like other cannabis groups that have been raided, such as the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center) The plants were cut down with chain saws, a scene captured on videotape by WAMM's security system and shown on KTVU -TV. Some 150 strong, healthy plants were taken.
While the DEA did their dirty work, patients organized a blockade of the narrow dirt road leading to the garden to block their escape. The DEA called on the local sheriff to help out; the sheriff was clearly dismayed at the raid. The blockade was called off in exchange for the release of Valerie and Mike, negotiated over the telephone from the Court House in San Jose. A caravan of SUVs and trailers hauled the crop away. The agents looked sullen and shamefaced, except for one young hotdog with a smart-aleck grin. Shocked patients returned to the scene of the crime, crying in disbelief at the clear-cut scene of their year's lost labors.
WAMM is a collective of some 250 patients, all of them seriously ill. Members take turns helping with harvesting and tending the garden, attending meetings, caring for each other's health, and sharing the crop amongst themselves. Because of space limitations, WAMM had to turn away many applicants and maintained a waiting list for admission.
DEA spokesman Richard Meyers claimed that the DEA was not targeting medical marijuana, but was rather concerned with the quantity of marijuana at WAMM. However, the WAMM bust was small by federal standards observed heretofore in a state where busts of 1000's of plants and common. Word from local US attorneys is that the Justice Department has ordered a crackdown on all of California's medical cannabis clubs.
WAMM is highly regarded as one of the best cannabis patients' clubs in the state. Unlike many other clubs, which sell marijuana to their members, WAMM distributes it for free. WAMM's director, Valerie Corral, is widely admired for her tireless and dedicated care for the seriously ill. A member of Attorney General Lockyer's state task force on medical marijuana, she was one of the original organizers of California's Prop. 215. An inspiring feature about Valerie and WAMM was published in Mother Jones magazine: