Santa Cruz: Federal officials continued their crackdown on sick and dying Californians yesterday when 20 armed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents raided the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a medical marijuana collective that had operated openly and in conjunction with the Santa Cruz sheriff’s office since 1993. The cooperative served some 250 patients, 85 percent of whom suffered from terminal illness, providing medicinal marijuana and other health related services free of charge.
WAMM co-founders Valerie and Michael Corral were arrested and later released pending possible criminal indictment for marijuana trafficking. Federal agents destroyed 167 marijuana plants during the raid. State police were not notified of the Feds’ action and did not participate in the raid. In fact, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Kim Allen later told The Oakland Tribune that his office had met regularly with the Corrals and had deemed WAMM to be in compliance and protected under California’s medicinal marijuana law.
Yesterday’s raid marks the 22nd time since September 11, 2001 that federal officials have taken action against California patients, growers or medicinal marijuana cooperatives, according to statistics compiled by California NORML. In addition, medical marijuana cases have accounted for 50 percent of all federal marijuana cases filed this year in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, according to California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer, who adds that the majority of raids have involved individuals found in possession of a relatively small number of plants. Typically, federal law enforcement only becomes involved in marijuana cases involving 1,000 or more marijuana plants.
Federal authorities have previously raided high profile medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.
WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral, who suffers from epilepsy, is a longtime medicinal marijuana activist. She was a member of Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s medical marijuana task force and had been documenting ongoing research regarding the efficacy of various medicinal marijuana strains, as well as the use of medical cannabis for young people with multiple behavior disorders.
Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt called the DEA’s actions “absolutely appall[ing]” and praised WAMM as an “extremely responsible collective; they have operated in a way that has been exemplary.”
Seventy-seven percent of Santa Cruz voters approved a local initiative in 1992 urging police to stop arresting medicinal marijuana users. Following passage of California’s medicinal marijuana law in 1996, the Santa Cruz city council reaffirmed a local ordinance allowing legalizing the use and cultivation of medicinal cannabis by patients who possessed a doctor’s recommendation.
California residents are urged to send a pre-written letter to their California Senators and Representative calling on Congress to denounce the DEA’s recent actions in California by clicking here.