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Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM)
The facts about: the County of Santa Cruz et. al. vs. Gonzales et. al

 

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Important Documents
 
The Complaint
  WAMM Order (.pdf)
  Motion for Preliminary Injunction

  Judicial Notice Request
  WAMM Protocols and Guidelines

Meet the Plaintiffs

  More about the Plaintiffs

  Their Declarations

  1.   Valerie Corral

  2.   RIP Eladio V. Acosta (of cancer)

  3.   Jennifer Lee Hentz

  4.   Harold F. Margolin

  5.   Levi Castro - Quadriplegic &  business
      owner More soon...

  6.   RIP Dorothy Gibbs
      (of Post-polio complications)

  7.   RIP James Daniel Baehr

  8.   RIP Michael Cheslosky
      (of AIDS/Bone Cancer)

     

Supportive Pleadings

  Arnold S. Leff M.D.

  Earnest H. Rosenbaum M.D.

  Harvey L. Rose, M.D.

  Neil Flynn, M.D.

  Robert Brody, M.D.

 

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1 of the Santa Cruz City Council, including Emily Reilly, who has since been elected mayor,

2 attended the demonstration in support of WAMM, as did three former mayors of the City of

3 Santa Cruz, and a Santa Cruz County supervisor.

4                             20. Plaintiff WO/MEN'S ALLIANCE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA

5 ("WAMM"), is a collective located in Davenport, California, in the County of Santa Cruz. It is

6 composed of seriously-ill patients who cultivate marijuana at WAMM's collective for their own

7 medical use. Patients who are too ill to assist in cultivation contribute their time to other aspects

8 of WAMM and share in the medical marijuana harvest. These patients use the marijuana with

9 the written recommendations of their physicians, in full compliance with California law.

10 WAMM members do not purchase, sell or distribute medical marijuana. WAMM patients work

11 together to alleviate their suffering. They provide each other with emotional support to deal with

12       their illnesses and assist each other in completing day-to-day tasks that their illnesses have made

13       more difficult, such as grocery shopping or traveling to the doctor's office. Each patient's

14 "primary caregiver," defined by the Compassionate Use Act as the individual designated by the

15 patient who consistently assumes responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of the patient,

16 Cal. Health & Safety Code 11362.5(e), is also a member of WAMM.

17                              21.         The remaining Plaintiffs are WAMM patients who use medical marijuana

18 upon the written recommendations of their physicians to treat symptoms of their illnesses or to

19 relieve serious side effects from conventional medical treatment, in full compliance with

20 California law and the County and City Ordinances.

21                              22.         Plaintiff ELADIO V. ACOSTA ("Acosta"), a resident of Watsonville,

22 California, which is in the County of Santa Cruz, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. The

 23      formal diagnosis of his condition is Stage III nasopharyngeal cancer with bilateral cervical

24 lymph node metastases. Currently, he undergoes chemotherapy three times a month, and had

25 two chemotherapy ports implanted in his chest to facilitate the administration of chemotherapy

26 treatments. These cause pain and discomfort.

27  23.                       The chemotherapy causes severe side effects that leave Acosta unable to

28 work and make it difficult for him to go about his daily life. Among other side effects, Acosta

 

COMPLAINT FOR PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND DAMAGES

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1 experiences severe nausea and violent vomiting that continue for two to three days after each

 2 treatment. Because the chemotherapy also causes complete loss of appetite, Acosta struggles to

3 stay nourished and has suffered severe weight loss.

 

4                              24.        Acosta currently takes four prescription medications to counteract the

5 symptoms from his throat cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy. On the days before and

6 after he receives chemotherapy, he takes tablets of Dexamethasone. He also takes

7 Hydrocodone/APAP, as needed for pain, Prochlorperazine for vomiting and stomach pains,

8 Ambien to combat sleeplessness and Lovoxyl to regulate his TSH (thyroid) levels. Prior to

9 joining WAMM, Acosta knew nothing about the benefits, or even the existence, of medical

10 marijuana. He considered using medical marijuana after learning that it could help ease the pain

11      associated with his cancer treatments, that it had done the same for other patients, that it could

12 possibly act as a substitute for some of the narcotics he was forced to take, and that it was lawful

13 to do so in California with a physician's recommendation.

14                             25.         Acosta's first use of medical marijuana produced immediate benefits. For

15 the first time since starting chemotherapy, his appetite returned. Acosta now uses medical

16 marijuana cigarettes to stimulate his appetite, and he attributes his continued survival to this

17 appetite stimulation. He also smokes a small amount of medical marijuana at night to help

18 alleviate pain and aid him in sleeping. Immediately following chemotherapy, Acosta sometimes

19 takes a marijuana gel tab to help with nausea and sleeplessness.

 

20 26. Acosta uses medical marijuana with the written recommendation of his

21 physician. Acosta relies on WAMM for access to medical marijuana that is medically safe and

22 free from chemical adulterants that could jeopardize his health. Acosta uses medical marijuana

23 solely within California, does not purchase his medical marijuana, and does not distribute any

24 marijuana to others.

 

25                             27. Plaintiff JAMES DANIEL "DAN" BAEHR (`Baehr"), was diagnosed

26 with terminal, inoperable prostate cancer in 1994. His cancer has metastasized to his spine, hips,

27 and rib cage. His prognosis is terminal, and his doctors estimated at the time of diagnosis that he

28 had only 18 months to live.

COMPLAINT FOR PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND DAMAGES

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1                              28.        Baehr's cancer causes severe neuropathic back pain, severe bone pain, and

2 depression. In 1995, Baehr began a 9-week course of radiation therapy. Radiation caused

3         several side effects, including severe pain, severe nausea, loss of appetite, peristalsis, digestive

4 and intestinal complications, and depression. The conventional medicine Marinol, which

5 contains synthetic THC, one of the active chemicals found in marijuana, failed to control these

6 side effects and caused side effects of its own. Marinol made Baehr feel drugged and out of

7 control, upset his stomach, disrupted his mental acuity, and caused him to hallucinate. During

8 this period, Baehr was also taking a number of other conventional medications to alleviate pain

9 and sleeplessness, including Lortab, an opiate pain medication, morphine for the pain, and

 

10 Ambien to combat sleeplessness. The combination of these drugs alleviated the pain, but made

11 Baehr disoriented and constipated and caused him to lose his short term memory and motor

 

12       skills.

 

13                              29.        A nurse at Stanford Hospital suggested that Baehr try using medical

 

14 marijuana to help alleviate pain, reduce nausea, and restore appetite without the negative side

15 effects of Marinol. Toward the end of his nine-week course of radiation treatment in December

16 1995, Baehr joined WAMM. Medical marijuana reduced Baehr's nausea, helped alleviate the

17 other side effects of the conventional medications, and eased his pain.

18                              30.        After he completed radiation therapy, Baehr began seeing Dr. Richard

19 Shapiro in Santa Cruz. One of Baehr's early appointments with Dr. Shapiro included a

20 discussion of the benefits of medical marijuana, and Dr. Shapiro informed Baehr that he had

21 some patients who were using it successfully. Upon Dr. Shapiro's recommendation, Baehr

22 discontinued Marinol and began taking regular doses of medical marijuana in addition to Paxil,

23 morphine, Xanax, and Prilosec. This shift in treatment turned his health around. Medical

24 marijuana alleviated Baehr's severe nausea, stimulated his appetite, reduced sleepless, and

25 controlled his pain. In addition, after using medical marijuana, Baehr's back was not as tight or

26 painful, and his anxiety and depression were reduced. Medical marijuana also controlled

27 Baehr's sleep apnea, which had developed as a side effect from the morphine he took to control

28 pain.

COMPLAINT FOR PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND DAMAGES

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1                              31.        Baehr's cancer has now progressed to include major bone pain, weakness,

2 and severe neurological damage. These symptoms have limited his mobility, leaving him

3 frequently homebound and bedridden. Recently, Baehr was homebound for more than two

4 months. He now tires very easily and is experiencing increasing levels of pain. Baehr's inability

5 to work has placed a severe strain on his finances. He relies on WAMM to provide him with his

6 medical marijuana free of charge.

7                              32.        The September 5, 2002 raid has had a devastating impact on Baehr's

8 health. Because the seizure of their medical marijuana has forced WAMM patients to ration

9 their medication, Baehr's dosage has decreased at a time when his health is seriously

10 deteriorating. Since reducing his dosage of medical marijuana, Baehr has suffered increased

11 pain and nausea. Under his agreement with WAMM and the requirements of the City of Santa

12 Cruz, Baehr is not allowed to obtain medical marijuana from another source, leaving him without

13 sufficient medication to relieve his symptoms.

14                              33.        Baehr uses medical marijuana with the written recommendation of his

15 physician. He relies on WAMM for access to medical marijuana that is medically safe and free

16 from chemical adulterants that could jeopardize his health. Baehr uses medical marijuana solely

17 within California, does not purchase his medical marijuana, and does not distribute any

18 marijuana to others.

19                             34.         Plaintiff MICHAEL CHESLOSKY ("Cheslosky") is a resident of Santa

20 Cruz who was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1984. He also suffers from several other medical

21 conditions, most of which are associated with or exacerbated by HIV/AIDS. These include

22 Kaposi's sarcoma, Hepatitis C, thrush, liver disease, gastrointestinal disorders, neuropathic

23 illnesses, degenerative disk disease, recurrent pneumonia, and "wasting" syndrome.

24                              35. In 1991, Cheslosky started taking the HIV/AIDS drug AZT and Interferon,

25 a steroid that is injected directly into his muscles to treat his Kaposi's sarcoma. The side effects

26 of this treatment were debilitating: constant nausea, frozen and painful joints, and intense body

27 sweats that left him exhausted and dehydrated. Cheslosky tried Marinol to help treat his nausea.

28 After the first dose, he felt no effects at all, positive or negative. After the second dose, he was

 

COMPLAINT FOR PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND DAMAGES

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1 unable to move for hours from what he suspects was an extremely high dose of THC. Cheslosky

2 decided to discontinue Marinol because it did not help control his nausea.

3                              36. After Cheslosky moved to Santa Cruz in' 1994, he began using several new

4 HIV therapies, including HIV "cocktails" (which consist of a combination of several HIV

5 medications), protease inhibitors, and a "Chinese Menu" therapy that combined various

6 medications. Cheslosky's physician adjusted his treatment regimen depending on his body's

7 reaction to the drugs. The various HIV/AIDS treatments cause Cheslosky to suffer nausea,

8 vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. He eats infrequently because of these side

9 effects. As a result, Cheslosky suffers from "wasting syndrome," an uncontrollable weight loss

10 common to people with HIV/AIDS.

11       37.         In 1996, Cheslosky began chemotherapy for the Kaposi's sarcoma. While

12 undergoing chemotherapy, he experienced severe neuropathy, which caused shooting pains in his

13 legs and back. The pain was constant and completely disabling, and did not respond to any

14 conventional medication. Cheslosky's physician recommended Vicodin and other narcotics for

15 the pain, but Cheslosky was reluctant to use these drugs because of their addictive qualities and

16       other side effects.

17                              38. Cheslosky's physician recommended medical marijuana to treat his nausea

18 and chronic pain, and he joined WAMM in 1996. Medical marijuana has proven to be more

19 effective than any of the numerous other treatments Cheslosky had tried for his symptoms. For

20 example, Cheslosky uses a topical medical marijuana spray that relieves pain caused by arthritis

21 and severe nerve damage in his hands and back. Medical marijuana relieves Cheslosky's

22 symptoms without the debilitating grogginess, nausea, and lethargy he experienced with other

23 prescribed pain medications, including Vicodin, Neurontin, and codeine.

24                              39.        Cheslosky uses medical marijuana with the written recommendation of his

25 physician. He relies on WAMM for access to medical marijuana that is medically safe and free

26 from chemical adulterants that could jeopardize his health. Cheslosky uses medical marijuana

27 solely within California, does not purchase his medical marijuana, and does not distribute any

28 marijuana to others.

COMPLAINT FOR PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF,
DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND DAMAGES

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