Santa Cruz sues DEA

The city and county of Santa Cruz, California, has launched a lawsuit against Attorney General John, DEA administrator John Brown, drug czar John Walters, and 30 other DEA agents.
The suit was spurred by a September 2002 raid against Santa Cruz’s Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), in which federal agents seized 165 plants and arrested WAMM founders Mike and Valerie Corral (CC#41, Californian cities versus the feds).

The Corrals have yet to be charged, but DEA spokesman Rich Meyer told the media they could face a sentence of five years if convicted. He added that it is the duty of the DEA to raid med-pot clubs like WAMM, and to bring such “perpetrators” to justice.

The lawsuit, which includes seven sick and dying members of WAMM as plaintiffs, asks for an injunction against future raids on medicinal marijuana collectives.

The city council claims that WAMM specifically should be immune from raids as it has been deputized under Santa Cruz’s medical marijuana ordinance, and federal law states that such authorized officers cannot be prosecuted.

WAMM has about 250 members and is unique in that it shares pot as opposed to selling it. Since the raid, WAMM has been incapable of providing many of their patients with their needed marijuana medicine. As a result, 15 of their patients have died.

This lawsuit will find its way to a federal court, and then perhaps on to the Supreme Court, where supporters hope it will set a precedent.

“This is an opportunity for us to stand behind the people in our community who are the most needy,” Santa Cruz Mayor Emily Reilly told the media.

In 1992, 77% of Santa Cruz voters approved a civic ballot to allow the use of medical marijuana. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which allows med-pot to be used and sold with a doctor’s recommendation. In 2000, the Santa Cruz City Council approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana to be grown and used without a prescription.

Santa Cruz police are supportive of the city’s policies, and do not raid med-pot users or growers.