War on medpot in California intensifies

While the United States prepares for September 11th memorials and officials continue to warn of possible terrorist attacks inside the USA, the federal government is terrorizing sick and dying people in California.
In August, DEA agents stole six plants from a Northern California medpot patient, even though Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey tried to prevent the federal agents from violating a local policy he crafted that allows patients to grow six plants or less. On the same day in Santa Rosa, agents stole 128 plants from cancer patient Alan MacFarlane, who had earlier been arrested and acquitted for growing 100 pot plants.

Orange County patient Mike Teague, who had just seen marijuana cultivation charges dismissed in state court due to his status as a patient under Prop. 215, was then arrested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for being an “unlawful drug user in possession of a handgun.”

In other parts of California, federal agents and prosecutors are stepping in to attack small-time Prop. 215 patients after state courts and officials have decided not to prosecute them for marijuana.

Early on the morning of Thursday, 9-5-02, DEA agents stormed the Central California coastal home of medpot activists Valerie and Michael Corral.

The Corrals are among the most respected of California’s medical marijuana advocates. Valerie was one of the prime movers behind Prop. 215. She was described by the New York Times in 1997 as “the Florence Nightingale and the Johnny Appleseed of marijuana rolled into one person.”

Corral and her husband, who is a botanical expert, run a legally-codified, non-profit 501(c)3 medical marijuana club called the “the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana,” otherwise known as WAMM. WAMM is different from most medpot organizations. It is run by 250 patients and their caregivers, who provide FREE marijuana to each other, along with plants, grow instruction, and certification that can be used to prevent local cops from seizing plants from patients.

Unlike some other medical marijuana operations, in which growers and sellers make huge profits and then hide behind Prop. 215 when they get caught, WAMM’s operations have long been lauded as a model for truly selfless, compassionate public service unsullied by the profit motive.

Before Prop. 215 passed, Corral was repeatedly raided by local police, but since the landmark medpot law was passed by California voters in 1996, WAMM has become an important part of the local health care community.

The Corrals have conducted and attended meetings with Santa Cruz-area police and officials, providing educational materials and information that protects patients and police. Valerie has been honored for her work: the mayor of Santa Cruz gave her a formal proclamation of appreciation.

The September 5th raid was met by fierce resistance from medpot patients and advocates, some of whom were handcuffed and roughed up by agents during the dawn shakedown.

While DEA agents used chainsaws to destroy 130 pot plants cultivated by patients near Davenport, California, patients in wheelchairs gathered at the entrance to the garden, blocking agents and their vehicles.

After a tense standoff, negotiations facilitated by Santa Cruz sheriffs resulted in the patients ending their blockade when the Corrals were released from custody without being charged. Patients gathered to hold a vigil for the plants that were murdered and stolen; some were crying, knowing that the plants were almost ready for harvest.

Corral later said that this “latest injustice” will not discourage WAMM from assisting sick and dying people. She said that the destruction of the communal garden was a theft of medicine from people in terminal stages of cancer and AIDS.

In February, the same day that DEA raided medpot clubs and growers in San Francisco actions that included the arrest of grow guru Ed Rosenthal, DEA chief Asa Hutchinson made a speech that said that the DEA was not interested in minor medical marijuana cases.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Hutchinson claimed, “I don’t know of any instance in which there’s been a federal targeting of any user; that’s not within the federal priority system. We have gone after traffickers. If you have 500 marijuana plants, that is of concern.”

Reacting to the continuing crisis caused by federal invasions of California, the state’s Attorney General Bill Lockyer sent a letter US Attorney General John Ashcroft, asking for a meeting and criticizing “punitive expeditions” against “locally authorized medical marijuana operations.”

The raids have caused ongoing protests at DEA offices across the state, and some medpot patients are threatening a civil war against the federal government if sick and dying people, and their plants, continue to be attacked.

What are the federal government’s priorities?” asked Jeff Jones, director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative. “At the anniversary of 9/11, you would think the federal government and its agencies would have more important things to do than raid someone who has not caused harm.”

Look for continuing coverage of California’s marijuana scene, including the courageous actions of Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, in upcoming issues of Cannabis Culture.

For information about the WAMM situation: www.wamm.org, www.safeaccessnow.org, or dial 510-486-8083 for details of anti-DEA actions in California. Also, contact California’s senators and tell them to stop the DEA from terrorizing Californians, by passing H.R. 2592, the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Sen. Barbara Boxer: 202-224-3553; Sen. Diane Feinstein: 202-224-3841