Santa Cruz Defies U.S. On Marijuana 

  Santa Cruz Defies U.S. On Marijuana 

Posted by CN Staff on September 18, 2002 at 07:28:38 PT
By William Booth, Washington Post Staff Writer 
Source: Washington Post  

There were speeches from lawyers about freedom and pleas from doctors for compassion and some rhetoric against the Bush administration. Then the patients began to roll forward in their wheelchairs to get their prescriptions -- their marijuana buds and pot cupcakes -- on the steps of City Hall.The gaunt AIDS patient said marijuana helped him eat again. An elderly man with post-polio syndrome grinned and picked up his vial. A patient suffering from pancreatic cancer simply said "thank you."
Then Jodie Lombardo, who has lupus, decried the recent bust of the popular medical-marijuana cooperative here as inhumane and asked what federal authorities would do if their own loved ones were sick and needed the relief these patients say they find in this weed.With the mayor and most of the city council in attendance, Santa Cruz today pledged that its efforts to deliver marijuana to the sick and dying would continue -- despite the armed raid by federal agents two weeks ago against a marijuana pharmacy that has been openly operating here for years."We are not the enemy," said Valerie Corral, one of the founders of the medical marijuana cooperative. "Our message is not about defiance, but peace, and we plead for the same from the government."California is pressing its case that sick people should be permitted some use of marijuana, and it is challenging Congress to take another look at the issue. And through its elected officials -- from mellow Santa Cruz to the capital in Sacramento -- the state is challenging the federal government's insistence on prosecuting medical marijuana distributors.In many California cities, there have been efforts to accommodate marijuana dispensaries, and local prosecutors and police have generally either taken a hands-off approach or worked closely with groups giving away or selling marijuana for medical use.Today's act of defiance was sparked by a Sept. 5 raid by federal agents at a medical marijuana collective run by Corral and her husband, Michael. The Corrals were instrumental in drafting Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot initiative that made California the first of nine states to allow people suffering from AIDS, cancer or other ailments to use marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 167 plants and arrested the Corrals at their Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, but they were released later that day, and no federal charges have been filed against them. Marijuana cases are usually tried in state court.The Corrals' nonprofit operation has worked closely with local officials, including doctors and police. They openly grow and distribute marijuana, and they have issued identification cards to several hundred patients who have prescriptions. Local law enforcement accepts the cards as proof of need for those in possession of marijuana.DEA officials did not contact the Santa Cruz Police Department or the county sheriff before carrying out the raid, which officials here describe as heavy-handed interference in a local matter."That's part of the outrage shown by almost everyone I've talked to," said Santa Cruz Mayor Christopher Krohn."Whatever the stereotype of a marijuana user is, these are very vulnerable people, people with terminal cancers who use medical marijuana."The DEA, however, says that marijuana remains a dangerous and prohibited drug -- for everyone."The DEA is charged by Congress to enforce federal drug laws, and federal drug laws indicate marijuana is a controlled substance," said Will Glaspy, a DEA spokesman in Washington. "If we develop information that someone is trafficking drugs, we're going to conduct an investigation."The medical community believes that marijuana is not a drug to make sick people healthy -- it can cause psychological problems, heart disease and cancer -- but there is some evidence that it can temporarily alleviate some symptoms, such as chronic pain, glaucoma and the debilitating loss of appetite that can accompany AIDS and cancer, especially among those undergoing chemotherapy. However, most physicians feel that there are probably better drugs than marijuana to restore appetite and alleviate the nausea of chemotherapy.Proponents of medical marijuana say the federal government is harassing sick people and wasting its resources on a relatively harmless drug that might do some patients some good."They're hoping their actions will have such a chilling effect that other proprietors will see what happens and put themselves out of business," said Paul Armentano, a spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington.Since California voters approved the 1996 ballot initiative, federal agents have raided a dozen pot pharmacies around the state. Some have remained shuttered and others have reopened.Several years ago, after the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative was shut down, marijuana proponents won a victory in federal court, arguing that there was a "medical necessity" loophole in the nation's drug laws and that the government should not stand between patients and physicians.But the Supreme Court last year affirmed that federal law supercedes state law and barred physicians from prescribing an illegal drug.The pro-pot advocates at Santa Cruz City Hall today stressed that their goal was not legalization of recreational dope, but permission to distribute "a medicinal herb." Arnold Leff, a physician who works with AIDS patients here said, "This is not a bunch of patients lighting up and getting high." But federal authorities have long suspected that the medical marijuana agenda is simply a first step toward legalization (though in California, an arrest for simple possession equates to a parking ticket).And this is Santa Cruz: In the crowd on the City Hall lawn, there were others with their own agenda. They openly rolled joints and huffed away, not sick at all, but getting high. And there wasn't a DEA agent in sight.Special correspondent Kimberly Edds in Los Angeles contributed to this report.Note: City Officials Vow to Defend Medical Uses. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: William Booth, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Wednesday, September 18, 2002; Page A03 Copyright: 2002 Washington PostContact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Sites:WAMM From WAMM Protest Medical Marijuana Backed in Santa Cruz California City Hands Out Marijuana Cruz City Council Distributes Medpot

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Comment #2 posted by SirReal on September 20, 2002 at 08:02:26 PT

Make that..
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Comment #1 posted by SirReal on September 20, 2002 at 08:01:20 PT

The 1st shot across the bow..the battle has begun.

I invite my brethren to a free game of chess with me  ..www.goldtoken.comOver a few chess moves, we shall discuss our next move in this 'theatre'
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