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County may join WAMM suit

County may join WAMM suit


February 10, 2003
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ - The county may decide Tuesday to join a medical
marijuana club in suing the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt has asked the board to approve signing
on as plaintiffs with the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’s suit
against the DEA, to be filed in two weeks. Participation comes at no
cost to the county.
In September, the DEA raided WAMM’s Davenport-area pot garden,
uprooting 167 plants. Michael and Valerie Corral, cooperative
founders, were arrested and later released but face five years in
prison and the forfeiture of their land.
The lawsuit will seek a federal court order prohibiting the DEA from
future raids to WAMM or any medical marijuana club on the
grounds the government lacks the jurisdiction and authority to
conduct them.
“It’s a request that the federal government respect the democratic
process and the will of the people,” Valerie Corral said.
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 115, the Compassionate
Use Act, which legalized medical marijuana. More than 70 percent of
county voters also passed a similar local initiative.
“If we were to win, it would affect thousands of patients throughout
the sate of California, and perhaps in other states as well,” Corral
Santa Cruz signed on as plaintiffs last month.
Local attorney Ben Rice, one of the lawyers representing WAMM, said
county participation would send an important message of support to
federal judges. Corral agreed.
“It shows solidarity in the community that this community will not
allow the DEA to violate our city, county or state laws,” she said.
“It adds the status of a public agency to WAMM, and I think that’s
an important consideration for” federal judges, Wormhoudt said.
Prominent civil rights lawyers are lending their hand to WAMM’s
battle, including Gerald Uelmen, former dean of the Santa Clara
University School of Law, and the firm of Bingham McCutchen in San
Francisco. Uelmen represented the Oakland Cannabis Club in front of
the Supreme Court.
Thirteen WAMM patients have died since the federal raid.
“They died earlier and much less comfortably than they would have”
had the raid not occurred, Rice said. “(The raid) has had a profound
negative effect throughout our community.”
Contact Jeanene Harlick at jharlick (at)

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