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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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*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***

  • WHAT: Oral arguments in constitutional challenge to the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana (County of Santa Cruz v. Gonzales)
  • WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, on the 5th floor, Courtroom 3, at 280 1st St., San Jose, CA
  • WHEN: Friday, July 13 at 9:00 a.m.
  • WHO: Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project; the law firm Bingham McCutchen, the Drug Policy Alliance, private attorneys Gerald Uelmen and Benjamin Rice, Valerie Corral and other named plaintiffs and WAMM members

Major Legal Challenge to Federal Government’s Medical Marijuana Policy Resumes Tomorrow

WAMM and the ACLU to Argue Case in Federal Court: Friday, July 13 at 9:00 a.m. - 280 1st Street, San Jose, CA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 12, 2006

CONTACT: Mimi Hill, (831) 425-0580

SAN JOSE, CA - The American Civil Liberties Union, joined by the Drug Policy Alliance, the law firm Bingham McCutchen, and private attorneys Gerald Uelmen and Benjamin Rice, will present oral arguments tomorrow morning to a federal judge in a constitutional challenge to the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana. 

The case, County of Santa Cruz v. Gonzales, is brought by the city and county of Santa Cruz, California, Valerie Corral, and a hospice collective of medical marijuana patients, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM).  The case, which represents the lone significant constitutional challenge to the federal government’s prohibition of medical marijuana following the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissal of Gonzales v. Raich, has been on hold pending the outcome of Raich.

“The federal government’s relentless persecution of medical marijuana patients is simply indefensible,” said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, who will be presenting oral arguments in court tomorrow.  “Medical marijuana is backed by irrefutable science and the will of the American people, yet the federal government remains determined that seriously ill individuals shall not be permitted crucial medicine.”

The ACLU and others will argue that the federal government has unconstitutionally attempted to sabotage California’s ability to chart its own legislative course by selectively utilizing arrests, prosecutions and other means to thwart the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Legal papers submitted in the case also point out that federal government interference with the ability of seriously ill, in many cases terminal, patients to use medical marijuana – effectively denying them access to life-saving medicine – deprives patients of basic due process rights protected by the Constitution.

In dismissing Raich, the Ninth Circuit confirmed that such a medical necessity defense was indeed viable, but could only be considered in instances where defendants had been arrested for medical marijuana use.  While not the case in Raich, Santa Cruz defendants meet this requirement.

“We’re just looking for a way to provide proper care to those in need without invoking the wrath of the federal government,” said Valerie Corral, a medical marijuana patient and founder of the WAMM collective, which was raided by federal officials in 2002.  “We work in accordance with state law and in partnership with the local community and government, but still cannot escape federal interference, obstruction and threat.”

In addition to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the lawsuit names as defendants U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents involved in the 2002 raid of WAMM, DEA Administrator Karen Tandy and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters. 

The plaintiffs’ amended complaint is available online at:
www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/23992lgl20060130.html

A brief arguing the impact of the Raich dismissal on the case is available at:
www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/30550lgl20070418.html

For a complete summary of County of Santa Cruz v. Gonzales, see: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/24002prs20060131.html

For background information on a local ordinance passed by the city of Santa Cruz that would make provision of medical marijuana directly to qualified patients an official city function, see: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/medmarijuana/21203prs20051108.html

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