Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

LOCAL News :: [none]

Council deputizes pot club founders

Council deputizes pot club founders


December 11, 2002
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ -- The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to
deputize the co-founders of a medical-marijuana club, symbolically
making them officers of the city government.
That doesn’t mean Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’s Mike
and Valerie Corral are actual deputies, have any special powers or will
“need to show any stinkin’ badges,” said City Councilman Tim
Fitzmaurice. Instead, their status means the council officially
sanctions WAMM’s activities.
Council members said they hope the formal link between the city and
the group will increase legal protections for the Corrals, who have not
been charged with a crime in connection with a September raid by
federal agents on their pot farm, but are wary of future prosecution.
The Corrals are still trying to get the seized marijuana plants and
some equipment back from the federal government.
At the very least, the deputization shows solidarity with WAMM,
council members said.
Armed federal agents arrested the Corrals on Sept. 5 and tore out
167 plants at their Davenport-area marijuana garden. The Corrals,
who were released hours after their arrest, said they were told they
could be arrested again at any time.
WAMM’s founders say most of the group’s 200-plus members are
seriously or terminally ill.
Council members received national media attention later in
September for showing up to a rally on the steps of City Hall, where
WAMM members came to get their weekly allotment of medical pot.
For their stand, council members were alternately praised as heroes
standing up against federal bullies, and ridiculed as flakes who were
perpetuating the city’s wacky, drugged-out image.
If the WAMM founders end up before the Supreme Court, “we’re
showing faith in what they are doing,” Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice
said. He said WAMM could turn to the court and say, “Look, this is
the faith the community has in us.”
Andrea Tischler of the local Compassion Flower Inn, a
bed-and-breakfast devoted to medical marijuana, urged the city to
take it a step further and “consider deputizing others to run clubs
because over 2,000 patients are in need of their medicine” in Santa
Cruz County. She said there’s no way WAMM alone can serve the
Councilman Mike Rotkin said he’s concerned that the national press is
making the city’s stand on medical marijuana into an
everybody-must-get-stoned story.
He said city leaders did not take the deputization status lightly, and
that it was extending this status because of WAMM’s continued
commitment to protecting terminally ill patients. He said that for
anyone else to get this deputy status, they’d have to prove they had
as much commitment and responsibility as WAMM.
Councilman Mark Primack supported the motion but said he wanted
to do something that had more “teeth” to provide guaranteed legal
protections for the Corrals. He said he was dismayed by a recent
statement by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that
deputization would not change the Corrals’ status in the eyes of the
“What is a tangible action to create real protection?” he said.
Rotkin replied that he thought DEA spokesman Richard Meyer was
being “very disingenuous” in his statements to the Sentinel earlier this
week, and that deputization could offer real protections.
“This could be a way to defend them because they are following the
spirit of the local (medical marijuana) ordinance and should not be
prosecuted,” Rotkin said. “In the end, it’s not up to the DEA but the
courts to settle this.”
Meyer on Tuesday reiterated his statement that “federal law
supersedes state or local law, so nobody in the U.S. has authorization
to distribute illegal drugs at will. We are a country of laws.
Deputization really does nothing as far as federal law is concerned.”
The federal government considers medical marijuana contraband and
has asserted that its authority overrides state and local laws that
make provisions for medical marijuana touching off an emotional
debate about alternative medicine, drug use and local authority.
The Corrals said Tuesday they hoped their new status would give
them protection under the same federal law that lets police officers
legally carry and sell drugs while engaging in narcotics stings.
According to this reading of the law, the Corrals would be “enforcing”
state and local laws allowing for medical marijuana use.
“It’s opposite ends of the same continuum,” Mike Corral said. “They’re
out to bust people and we’re out to help.”
Meyer said he couldn’t imagine WAMM meeting the criteria to fall
under the provisions of that federal law.
“That makes no sense,” he said. “Local deputies handle drugs, process
them and lock them up. They don’t distribute them to people on the
street. If they did that, they would be breaking the law.”
Santa Cruz, however, is not the first city to try to use deputization
of medical marijuana club members to increase their protection from
federal prosecution. A similar approach was used in Oakland and San
Francisco. The strategy has yet to be tested in federal court.
WAMM members say they are still getting marijuana for members.
They declined to state the source.
WAMM board member Suzanne Pfeil said the government “tries to
characterize a sick and tiny community as drug trafficking, and that it
has to protect the (community) from us. We ask you to protect us
from them.”
Contact Dan White at dwhite (at)


New Comments are disabled, please visit


No events for this day.

view calendar week
add an event


Media Centers

Syndication feeds

Account Login

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software