SANTA CRUZ, CA - September
11 - In an historic act of civil disobedience, members of the Santa Cruz City
Council have invited the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), raided
last week by the Drug Enforcement Administration, to distribute medical marijuana
to patients in the City Hall courtyard on Sept. 17. During the action, scheduled
for 3:00 p.m. PDT, members of the council will stand with WAMM members in an act
of solidarity. This dramatic event, which WAMM lawyer Ben Rice calls "our
Boston Tea Party," comes in the midst of a national wave of outrage at the
DEA's latest raids, including new calls for Congressional action.
WAMM, a cooperative run
by and for patients (most with terminal diagnoses), worked closely with local
authorities, strictly followed California law and local guidelines, and never
sold marijuana to anyone. Nevertheless, armed DEA agents swooped down on the co-op
Sept. 5, pointed automatic weapons at paralyzed patients, tore up WAMM's garden,
and carted off operators Valerie and Mike Corral in handcuffs.
The raid -- the latest
in a series of DEA raids targeting small- scale medical marijuana operations run
by seriously ill people -- has triggered shock and anger nationwide. U.S. Rep.
Sam Farr (D-CA), in whose district WAMM is located, called the DEA's action "truly
outrageous." Syndicated columnist Clarence Page denounced the raid in a Sept.
8 Chicago Tribune column that was quickly seconded by editorials in the Seattle
Times, San Jose Mercury News, and even the conservative Orange County Register.
The Register's Sept. 9
editorial noted that WAMM "was probably the `cleanest' of all operations
in California" and called the raid "an unwarranted and extreme operation
against sick people. ... Such cruel raids suggest that a law that can be used
to terrorize sick people is in need of reconsideration."
The raid has energized
efforts to change the law. In addition to Santa Cruz's unprecedented act of civil
disobedience, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) has committed to introducing an
amendment to the Justice Department's appropriations bill barring the DEA from
raiding medical marijuana dispensaries operating in accord with state and local
law. Rep. Farr and House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have already indicated
their support. Separately, U.S. Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Mike Honda
(D-CA) have newly signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 2592, the States' Rights to
Medical Marijuana Act, another proposal to end the DEA's attacks on medical marijuana.
Protests planned for September 22 and 23 in Sacramento, California, and Washington,
D.C., are expected to draw hundreds of medical marijuana patients and their supporters.
"The DEA has gone
too far with these cruel and utterly pointless actions," said Robert Kampia,
executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "The
courage of the Santa Cruz City Council and the growing anger in Congress are signs
of a genuine grassroots rebellion all across this country that will put an end
to these attacks on the sick and vulnerable."
The Marijuana Policy Project
works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana -- both the consumption of
marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. In association
with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, MPP will hold its first national conference
on November 8-10 in Anaheim, California. For more information, please visit http://www.mpp.org