Pot Backers Rally in Santa Cruz

Pot Backers Rally in Santa Cruz
Posted by CN Staff on July 17, 2005 at 09:18:14 PT
By Nancy Pasternack, Sentinel Staff Writer
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Santa Cruz -- It was short on floats and balloons. But Saturday’s downtown procession of medical marijuana users and their supporters was long on clarity.Several hundred members and friends of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana rode in wheelchairs or walked slowly up Pacific Avenue, most of them holding signs with headshot photos of deceased loved ones who had counted on relief from medical marijuana during their final months or years. Some held or wore cannabis plants.
In the wake of a June 6 Supreme Court ruling that has called into question the authority of individual states to employ their own medical marijuana laws, advocates for the beleaguered Santa Cruz cooperative have redoubled efforts to differentiate themselves from recreational drug users, and to promote legal access to what they feel is a medically useful, and in some cases, necessary drug. Rick Steeb of San Jose joined the throngs Saturday in their march toward Santa Cruz City Hall. Steeb said he has been using medical marijuana for the last four years. The drug, he said, does much to mitigate pressure and pain in his eyes, and to alleviate his insomnia."I’m concerned about the providers," he said of Valerie and Michael Corral — founders of WAMM — and other cooperative marijuana growers. "They have so many terminally ill patients who absolutely depend on the relief these drugs provide," Steeb said.If the Supreme Court ruling were to result in federal crackdowns on growers, "I would have to seek the drug out on the street," he said.Stephanie Sakasai’s sign bore a black-and-white shot of her best friend Chelene Cook, who died in 1996 of brain cancer. Cook had been supplied with drugs from WAMM in the months before her death, and, according to Sakasai, had benefited a great deal from them. "I know it was because of it that she lived as long as she did," said Sakasai.Participants in the noon hour’s quiet, somber parade settled in the courtyard of City Hall to hear from elected officials, and local and regional medical marijuana advocates.Cheers rang out in the City Hall courtyard when City Councilmember Cynthia Matthews read aloud from a proclamation signed by Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, who was not present Saturday. The statement declared July 16th "Medical Marijuana Day."Allen Hopper, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s drug law reform division, compared acts of civil disobedience on behalf of medical marijuana with acts that led to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education.The ACLU drug law reform division headquarters is in Santa Cruz."People have stood up and said, ‘we’re not going to take this anymore,’" Hopper said of Saturday’s parade and rally.The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which rendered segregated schools unconstitutional, wouldn’t have stood a chance politically, he said, except for the social movement behind it.Several blocks away from the rhetoric, Santa Cruz Police Lt. Mark Sanders spoke by telephone about medical versus recreational use of marijuana as a practical, law enforcement matter."We have guidelines, but they get evaluated on a case-by-case basis," he said. The difference between what is currently considered legal and illegal possession, he said, "is frequently very blurry and very difficult to judge." Note: S.C. mayor declares July 16 Medical Marijuana Day.Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)Author: Nancy Pasternack, Sentinel Staff WriterPublished: July 17, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Santa Cruz SentinelContact: editorial santa-cruz.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:ACLU Protesters in Santa Cruz Rally for Marijuana Pot Parade To Put Festive Face on Battle
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on July 17, 2005 at 13:00:10 PT
News Article from
Memorial To Be Held For Medical Marijuana Pioneer***Activist Was 'Driving Force' Behind Prop 215 Guidelines July 17, 2005SAN DIEGO -- Medical marijuana activists plan to hold a memorial at City Hall Tuesday for Steve McWilliams, who killed himself on his 51st birthday Monday."He was a pioneer in the movement," Claudia Little, a retired nurse from Point Loma who is helping to organize the local service, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "He was the one who brought the issue of the implementation of Proposition 215 to the forefront."Activists in at least 15 other cities are planning events for Tuesday to coincide with the San Diego event. In Washington D.C., supporters are planning a candlelight vigil encircling the Capitol, the Union-Tribune reported.McWilliams urged the San Diego City Council to address Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative that for gave some Californians the legal right to use marijuana to ease various ailments."There were clearly others, but Steve McWilliams was the driving force" behind those guidelines, said Councilwoman Toni Atkins, who plans to ask that the City Council adjourn Monday in his memory.Federal agents have never recognized the state law, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that federal law trumps Proposition 215.In 2002, McWilliams drew the attention of federal agents by smoking pot and giving away small bags of the stuff on the steps of City Hall to protest a raid on a medical marijuana cooperative in Santa Cruz County.The next year, McWilliams was convicted of illegal growing and got a six-month federal prison term. The sentence was stayed pending appeal, but he was barred from using marijuana in the interim.When he died, McWilliams was in pain from an earlier motorcycle accident.In a note left at his side, McWilliams said the discomfort was too much for him and he hoped his suicide would help change the government's position on medical marijuana, Barbara MacKenzie, McWilliams' longtime partner, told the Union-Tribune. Copyright 2004 by
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 17, 2005 at 11:59:55 PT
Thank You Mike and Valerie!
We all think of people we admire as we go thru life and when it comes to those I admire WAMM is at the top of the list. 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 17, 2005 at 09:34:55 PT
Related Article from The Associated Press
Protesters Rally for Medical MarijuanaAssociated PressJuly 17, 2005Santa Cruz, Calif. - Hundreds of fired-up pot smokers and their supporters marched in Santa Cruz Saturday to protest the federal government's blows against medicinal marijuana.The rally was organized by the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.The protesters, some in wheelchairs and hoisting pot plants, were joined by five of seven city council members and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt.Wormhoudt urged the crowd to stand tough on medicinal marijuana despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision threatening continued use of the drug.The court ruled last month that federal drug laws making marijuana illegal take precedence over state laws allowing pot for medical reasons."We are fighting back," vowed Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national Drug Law Reform Project, which moved to Santa Cruz last summer.Earlier this month, California health officials suspended a program that issued medicinal marijuana users state-issued identification cards.State Health Director Sandra Shewry asked the state attorney general's office to review the Supreme Court ruling to determine whether the ID cards could put patients and state employees at risk of federal prosecution.Copyright: 2005 Associated Press
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