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WAMM Members Protected From Federal DEA Raids

Eighteen months after a brutal DEA raid on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) collective in Santa Cruz County, 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. Wednesday's (4/21/04) ruling will protect WAMM while the lawsuit is pending, and allow the collective to resume cultivation.

"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," stated Neha Shah Nissen, an attorney with Bingham McCutchen.

"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."

previous coverage: [ DEA Raids Santa Cruz Dispensary! (9/5/02) I WAMM's Medicinal Cannabis Distribution at City Hall I Audio from the WAMM Pot Giveaway (9/17/02) ]

[ Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana I Drug Policy Alliance I Americans for Safe Access ]
Court Grants Injunction Allowing WAMM Members to Grow and Use Their Medicine

Wednesday -- April 21, 2004

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."

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

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.

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

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

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

Elizabeth Méndez Berry
Deputy Director of Communications
Drug Policy Alliance
(212) 613-8036
eberry (at) drugpolicy.org

CONTACT: Tony Newman
(212) 613-8026
 
 


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Comments

Re: WAMM Members Protected From Federal DEA Raids

How many times now have we all said "Oh good, medical marijuana is safe now because it's legal" on the heels of another statement, lower-court ruling, appeals-court ruling, or public referendum?

We get a municipal law passed - they raid again under a state law, and we remain fucked.

We get a state law passed, and they raid again under a federal law.

We get a court decision to stop the raids, and they tie up the decision in an appeals court while continuing to raid us.

So now you have a US District Court decision in your favor. YOU THINK THIS MEANS ANYTHING?

WAMM will be attacked again. Next time it will be a "freezing of bank assets", or a "land seizure via eminent domain", or endless machine-gun-style IRS audits, or exhorbitantly expensive new "licenses for pharmaceutical manufacturers". Or maybe another raid for "narcoterrorist links" from an "anonymous informant".

Maybe next time they'll just kill Valerie during the raid, claim self-defense, and after a 5-year legal battle over it one guy will get a slap on the wrist. Think it doesnt happen? Tell that to the widow of Donald Scott, billstclair.com/blog/vin/010902.html or to Judi Barri.

WHERE IS WAMM'S COMPENSATION FROM THE DEA FOR HAVING SUFFERED AN ILLEGAL, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND DAMMAGING RAID?!?!?!

People, this is never going to stop. An enemy who is not punished, will return.

What good is America's "rule of law" when there are a hundred overlapping laws against everything?
 

Re: WAMM Members Protected From Federal DEA Raids

what kind of a comment is that to make? check yourself before you go saying some of the shite you just did.
 

And a message for Santa Cruz County DA Bob Lee

I think "Whatever" has raised the right issue. It's not about our right to use legal marijuana as medicine, it's the right of people to not to have our PG&E records subpoened, our phones tapped, our e-mails spyed on, be detained, searched, id'd, ticketed, arrested, have our property seized, imprisoned, loss of business & drivers licenses, loss of our reputations, and suffering community censure for using any substance whatsoever in our bodies---whether heroin or pot, cigarettes or beer.

It really is no one's business but our own what we drink, whiff, snort, smoke, eat, inhale, or stick up our butts. Certainly NOT the governmen'ts.

I'm glad for Valerie and Mike, for the WAMM plaintives, the medical marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County, and even the Board of Supervisors and the City Council who put their name on the line (Not their money, mind you) and supported this suit against the DEA.

But mostly I want to thank Judge Fogel who, despite enormous political pressure by Ashcroft and the DEA, didn't cave and gave what would be the right decision in this situation. It's rare to see such individual courage in a person already high up in the infrastructure. He is a model to others.

Get on every jury!!!

And a message for DA Bob Lee: You now have the green light to press charges against DEA agents who trespassed, brandished weapons, vandalized and property, feloniously burglarized, and kidnapped Valerie and Mike Corrall in their pajamas, but failed to even press charges.
 

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