September 6 Protest against DEA
raid of WAMM medical cannabis dispensary of Santa Cruz CA
Below is background information about the
September 5, 2002 DEA raid on the WAMM medical cannabis dispensary in
Santa Cruz CA. IMMLY is coordinating a protest at Noon at the Federal
Courthouse in Madison Wisconsin at 120 N. Henry St.
Release on Event: Protesters Rip DEA Raids On California WAMM Medical
Marijuana Collective At Federal Courthouse In Madison, Wisconsin On
PRESS RELEASE ABOUT EVENT
Cannabisnews: Articles about WAMM Raid:
From: "Richard Lake" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: DPFWI: [FWD] Emergency Alert: WAMM Raided
Date: Thursday, September 05, 2002 1:32 PM
*This is an emergency alert from Americans for Safe Access. *
EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVATED
On September 5, 2002 , federal agents raided the WAMM medical cannabis dispensary in Santa Cruz . Valorie has been arrested! We are asking all medical cannabis supporters to rally in opposition to this raid at noon on September 6th in front of the federal building in your city.
These demonstrations are a vital part of our grassroots opposition to the federal crackdown. Please make plans to attend and encourage others to do so. Please check our web site or call the ASA office if you need additional information about the location of your federal building or other demonstration site.
Our web site is www.safeaccessnow.org You can reach the CAN/ASA office directly at (510) 486-8083.
Thank you for your active support and participation.
Americans for Safe Access is an aggressive grassroots campaign designed to force the federal government to stop its attack on patients and respect the rights of voters to choose medical marijuana policy.
1. We demand that all prosecutions of medical marijuana patients, growers,
and dispensaries cease immediately.
2. We demand that President Bush & Attorney General Ashcroft declare a
moratorium on the Federal anti-medical marijuana campaign.
3. We demand President Bush declare his support for HR 2592, the States'
Rights to Medical Marijuana Act.
Cannabis Action Network www.cannabisaction.net
and Americans for Safe Access www.safeaccessnow.org
1678 Shattuck Ave. #317
Berkeley, CA 94709
(the following is a separate msg from California NORML. The WAMM website is
Sept. 5, 2002: We are outraged to report that the DEA is currently raiding the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, a collective serving 300 seriously ill patients. WAMM Director Valerie Corral and Mike Corral are in handcuffs, and the DEA is destroying their garden.
WAMM is a non-profit collective representing the most severely ill (mainly terminal) patients. THIS MEANS WAR!
D. Gieringer, Cal NORML
Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // email@example.com
2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
Here's an article from last year
about WAMM, the MMJ collective that was just raided. As you can see,
they do amazing work. See you ALL at federal buildings at noon
tomorrow on the news!
Half an Ounce of Healing
The desperately ill members of a
Santa Cruz marijuana club aren't growing pot to get high or make
money. They just want to find some relief.
by Evelyn Nieves
Dorothy Gibbs is lying in bed in
her trailer, barely able to move. It is a gorgeous Saturday afternoon
in Santa Cruz, the October sun as full as July's. The curtains in
Gibbs' room are half open; she is squinting as though the light stings
her eyes. But her 90-year-old face, framed by a snowy froth of hair,
looks cheerful, almost youthful. "I woke up in pain this
morning," she says, "but then I took the marijuana and it
made things better."
She reaches for an eight-ounce
bottle of brown liquid on a bedside tray and takes a swig. The tonic,
a concoction of soy milk and marijuana known as Mother's Milk, looks
like the muddy sand in a child's pail. "It doesn't taste like
much of anything," she says with a shrug. "It just makes me
Ten years ago, Gibbs, who had
developed polio as an infant, was stricken by postpolio syndrome,
leaving her arms nearly useless and her nerves on fire. Two years ago,
at the suggestion of her full-time visiting nurse, she tried pot for
the pain. ("I tried smoking it first," she says, "but
it hurt my throat.") Now she is one of about 200 members of the
Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, or WAMM, a Santa Cruz,
California, cannabis collective run by and for people who are very
If WAMM, the first medical
marijuana club in the country to be granted nonprofit status, will not
convince skeptics that cannabis may have a healthy purpose, nothing
will. The collective, which grows its own marijuana and distributes it
free to its members each week, is no pot party. About 85 percent of
its members are terminally ill. Many of those who line up at the
club's small, borrowed storefront every Tuesday evening had not used
the drug before they developed life-threatening illnesses like cancer
and AIDS. Others hadn't tried it before exhausting a medicine chest's
worth of pharmaceuticals for chronic, debilitating ailments like
postpolio syndrome or epilepsy. Relatively few have used marijuana the
way Bill Clinton did in college, for fun.
The Tuesday night WAMM line is a
gallery of illness. People come in wheelchairs, using walkers,
clutching canes, bald from chemotherapy, gaunt, hollow-eyed, nearly
wasted. The healthiest looking are the caregivers who come to pick up
pot for members who are too ill to come themselves.
But it is not a grim group.
After sitting in on five WAMM meetings, led by its firebrand director,
Valerie Leveroni Corral, I was most struck by how spirited, even
happy, members sounded. People announced picnic lunches, organized a
weekend in Reno, offered rides, memorialized the latest member to die
with fond remembrances and spirited anecdotes. They also complained,
like a family around the dinner table. In one meeting, a member with
AIDS griped about having to wait around for an hour listening to
everyone's "issues" before the marijuana is doled out:
"I'm in a room full of sick people," he said. "I don't
exactly feel great about that when my T-cell count is down." That
led to an hour of collective soul-searching on just what WAMM is
supposed to be -- a community or a marijuana dispensary.
With laws legalizing medical
marijuana already in effect in California, Alaska, Oregon, Washington,
Maine, and Hawaii (and with initiatives recently approved in Colorado
and Nevada), medical marijuana groups around the country have been
calling on WAMM to see how patient-run collectives ought to operate.
It is not easy. Federal law supersedes state law, and the government
refuses to budge in classifying marijuana as a dangerous, illegal
narcotic -- and a gateway to harder drugs -- with no medical value.
This means that in states where medical marijuana is legal, local and
state law enforcement may leave the collectives alone but the
Department of Justice could still step in, shut down the clubs, and
prosecute patients and their caregivers. In 1999, an Institute of
Medicine report commissioned by President Clinton's then drug czar,
General Barry McCaffrey, concluded that patients suffering from severe
pain, nausea, and appetite loss might find "broad spectrum relief
not! found in any other single medication" by using marijuana.
But that failed to alter the federal government's position that
possessing marijuana for any reason should be a crime.
There is an encouraging
development in the battle for legitimacy: In September, ruling on a
class-action suit filed against the government by medical marijuana
advocates, including WAMM, federal Judge William Alsup of the Ninth
Circuit Court in San Francisco ruled that the government could not
punish doctors who recommend the benefits of marijuana to their
patients. And while the federal government has threatened to prosecute
medical marijuana patients, that seems increasingly unlikely given the
public's growing acceptance of the drug as medicinal.
Medical marijuana clubs began
quietly operating in the early 1990s in response to the AIDS crisis,
and in 1996 California passed a groundbreaking voter initiative,
Proposition 215, that legalized possession of marijuana for patients
with a doctor's recommendation who are suffering from AIDS, cancer,
glaucoma, and other illnesses. But the fight for the right to exist is
far from over. Especially since the passage of Prop. 215, the federal
government (or state and local police, invoking federal law) has
continued to shut down marijuana clubs in California and has
repeatedly confiscated plants.
WAMM was started in 1993, lucky
to be born in Santa Cruz. The coastal city about 75 miles south of San
Francisco is one of the most tolerant in the country. Here's a place
where old and young hippies sit cross-legged on the sidewalk,
strumming guitars all day, where the City Council proposed
"sleeping zones" for the homeless (until the town was
inundated by urban campers from all over the West), and where the
nation's first bed and breakfast for medical marijuana users opened
last year with great fanfare. True to form, Santa Cruz has honored
WAMM with official proclamations and vowed to defend the collective's
right to exist. The city's position, endorsed by the mayor, district
attorney, and chief of police, is that Santa Cruz will abide by
California's medical marijuana law, and never mind the feds.
In fact, WAMM runs a tight ship.
It is strict about membership, admitting only the very sick, and only
those with a written recommendation from a doctor who agrees to
monitor the use of marijuana in the patient's treatment. The club also
preaches respect for the law. Except for the location of its marijuana
garden, deep in the Santa Cruz mountains, it is not secretive about
how it operates. Valerie Corral occasionally counsels officials in
cities throughout California on how best to implement and abide by
Prop. 215. She recommends that medical marijuana collectives operate
openly and, as WAMM has done, work with law enforcement officials to
make sure they are operating in accordance with state law.
"It's imperative that we
patients are really respectful to the law so that we can prove that
we're not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of law
enforcement," said Corral, an epileptic who uses marijuana to
control seizures and alleviate mind-stopping headaches. "For
police, their experience is still the mindset of marijuana being a
gateway drug, of the horror that drugs cause in people's lives. Our
job is to show that it's so much more of a medicine than it is a
For Corral, WAMM is much more of a communal support group than a
marijuana dispensary. For WAMM, Corral is much more of a spiritual
leader than a director. It is almost impossible to imagine the
organization without her. She is 48 years old, about five feet tall,
with an auburn pageboy, a collection of tiny gold hoops in her left
ear, and Cher's cheekbones. In part, she provides the public face of
WAMM: She speaks to politicians, was appointed to the California
Attorney General's task force on Prop. 215, testifies at hearings on
medical marijuana, and organizes memorials for WAMM members. She is
also the resident Best Friend and therapist at WAMM. Unsolicited,
members would come up to me and call her their angel or savior. But
Corral quickly points out that she has lots of help behind the scenes.
Her husband of 22 years, Mike, a slim man with a shaved head, wide
smile, and thick dark eyebrows, grows and cultivates the marijuana
WAMM gives away in a garden that has become! a kind of sacred place
for the collective.
The Corrals are expert growers,
having started more than 25 years ago following a freak car accident
that left Valerie wracked by seizures. The accident happened in 1973,
when she was 20. She was near Reno, the passenger in a Volkswagen
Beetle being driven by her friend. "I could see an old plane in
the distance," Corral recalled. "It was flying very low as
it came near. We thought it maybe had to make an emergency
landing." The plane flew by, then, seemingly lost, looped around
and roared back toward them. The torque of the plane caused the VW to
cartwheel. Corral's friend shattered the left side of her body; Corral
suffered severe brain trauma, leading to blackouts and epileptic
seizures, up to five a day.
For more than two years, Corral
walked around in a sedated stupor. Hooked on Percodan, Valium, and
Mysoline, she was obsessed with changing medications and trying
different dosages to control her seizures. By then, she was living
with Mike, who had become her caretaker. He found an article about how
marijuana helped control seizures in laboratory animals and procured
some for Valerie. "That changed our lives," she said,
sitting in her living room in a rare moment of quiet, with Mike by her
side. "I would take marijuana and the seizures diminished. By
1977, I was seizure free." She still suffers migraine headaches
and, to prevent seizures and control nausea, smokes marijuana
regularly, although not daily.
The Corrals bought their first
piece of property in the Santa Cruz mountains with part of the $40,000
insurance settlement she eventually received from her accident and
began growing marijuana in an organic garden. Eventually, they began
giving some of it away to people they knew who were dying of cancer.
Luckily for WAMM, the couple has
few expenses. The Corrals own their own home, and a second piece of
property and some stock market investments provide their income. A
modest lifestyle -- a blue-jeans wardrobe and a house filled with a
cozy mishmash of old furniture -- allows them to devote themselves to
In 1992, the local sheriff
arrested the Corrals on felony charges for cultivating five marijuana
plants in their front yard. The district attorney vowed to seek the
maximum penalty for the crime: three years in state prison. Instead,
all charges were dropped when the district attorney decided that no
jury would convict them. A year later, they were arrested again. The
highly publicized arrests prompted a flood of calls from people who
wanted to use marijuana for their illnesses. The Corrals began working
as advocates for medical marijuana and started WAMM that year.
"You have a car accident
and you think you get a brain trauma out of it," Valerie said,
"and instead, it becomes this wonderful opportunity to meet
people at the most crucial time in their lives." She has watched
more than 80 members of WAMM die over the years. Many more, given the
nature of the members' illnesses, will die over the next few years.
But she firmly believes that WAMM enhances the quality and longevity
of sick people's lives, and not just because of the marijuana. Members
become friends, almost like family. Two members who met at the Tuesday
meetings got married last summer. Some have become outspoken advocates
of medical marijuana in their own right. "One of the great things
about WAMM is that it puts patients in charge of their health
care," Valerie said. "I just hope that when the drug
companies and federal government find a way to make money off of
medical marijuana, we'll still be here."
On a Sunday afternoon in October
the Corrals and about a dozen other WAMM members began the happy task
of harvesting the marijuana plants that will supply the club for 2001.
The air on the property, which is perched on a secluded cliff
overlooking the Pacific, was redolent with the pungent-sweet scent of
marijuana. Mike Corral and George Hanamoto, a 66-year-old glaucoma
patient, cut down marijuana plants in the fenced-in garden. The other
WAMM members sat in a circle under a tarp, trimming the plants to make
it easier to harvest the buds during drying.
Five of the members present had
AIDS. Two had breast cancer. One had colon cancer. A young man who
brought his brother along was suffering from lupus. Suzanne Peterson,
a pretty 42-year-old and mother of three teenage sons, who had been
disabled by a severe case of postpolio syndrome, trimmed plants from a
wheelchair. Half a dozen dogs, two of them belonging to the Corrals,
wandered around the group. Members drank beer and soda and munched
potato chips, chatting about nothing in particular. It felt like a
garden party, which in a way it was.
"I love WAMM and this
garden," said Hanamoto during a break from his cutting. Once a
straight-and-narrow television repairman, he now wears his hair in a
long ponytail. A white undershirt revealed a surprisingly taut
physique. "WAMM changed me," he said. "I feel like I'm
doing something in my life." He is now the garden coordinator, a
kind of deputy to Mike Corral, and spends Sundays in the garden with
his wife, Jean. "We speak about my using marijuana openly a lot,
to everyone we know," he said. "I try to put it to people
that people who smoke marijuana are not brain-dead." Marijuana,
he said, has relieved the pressure in his eyes from glaucoma.
"About two years after I started using it, a doctor said the
glaucoma was gone," he said. Mike, who was nearly shrouded by
plants, said he was well aware of the government's dismissal of the
benefits of marijuana for glaucoma and other ailments. But countering
the official doubt comes easily after his 25 years of research,
experimentation, and growing, he said. "There are 462 molecules
in marijuana," he said with a wry smile, "so there's a long
way to go before this is fully investigated."
For several years his wife has
assiduously been documenting the type and amount of marijuana WAMM
members use to test the effectiveness not only of the strain of the
plant used but also of the method of ingestion. Members take the herb
in muffins -- though many complain that this way makes the drug too
strong -- as well as in Mother's Milk, in cigarettes, or in a tincture
added to food or drink. Mike uses the responses from members to
experiment with different marijuana plant varieties.
"We're working with pure
indica strains, pure sativa strains, and hybrids," he said.
"We're growing more indica this year than the sativa because the
membership prefers it for pain." He looked around the garden,
where the plants bloomed fat and tall. "I can tell this is going
to be a vintage year for purple indica," he said, gazing like a
proud papa at a bush about six feet high.
Valerie Corral, in overalls and
sneakers, tiptoed into the garden to take a look. She is prone to
smiling, which she did automatically when she saw Mike among the
flourishing plants. She squeezed his hand and kissed him. "This
garden," she said, "is beautiful."
Read the article online: