WAMM drops case against feds

shadowhawk

New member
SAN JOSE -- A Santa Cruz medicinal marijuana collective agreed Friday to dismiss its lawsuit against the federal government with the understanding that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency will respect state medical marijuana laws.

More than seven years ago, a DEA raid destroyed marijuana plants grown as medicine for 200 sick and dying patients, an action that frightened away members and led to the suit.

The agreement Friday to dismiss the lawsuit means WAMM will be able to continue serving the ill, hopefully, without interference from law enforcement, according to attorneys for WAMM -- including the ACLU, Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen and private attorney Ben Rice.

"What I hope we've accomplished today is provide some measure of protection" for medicinal marijuana collectives and patients, said Suzanne Pfeil, a WAMM member since 1996 who was at the property the night of the raid.

As part of the decision, Judge Jeremy Fogel allowed the case to remain open, meaning the litigation could be reinstated at its current position in the court system should the federal government again infringe on state medicinal marijuana laws, according to Allen Hopper of the ACLU, one of many groups that took up WAMM's cause after the 2002 raid.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors in October that it would not be a priority to prosecute patients or caregivers in California and the other 13 states where there are provisions
Advertisement
for medicinal marijuana use, as long as people followed state law.

That announcement made way for WAMM's settlement in federal court Friday.

Rice said the decision could have impact nationwide because "it puts some teeth" to Holder's policy.

"I think it's really big. I think that other medical marijuana collectives and patients will point to this," Rice said of the settlement.

But Uelmen said the case doesn't have "precedent value" for the rest of the country.

"What this case represents is a commitment that federal policy will be followed," he said.

Three dozen WAMM members, including Pfeil in her wheelchair, came to court Friday. Some expressed frustration that, after seven years, the collective didn't get any money as part of the resolution.

WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral said she "wasn't displeased" with the settlement. She said the decision was important for two reasons: It helps normalize the use of marijuana as a medicine and leaves the case open to pick up the fight, should the federal government interfere again.

In September 2002, DEA agents raided the WAMM farm in Davenport and used chain saws to mow down 167 marijuana plants. Mike and Valerie Corral, who run the alliance, were arrested during the raid but never charged with a crime.

Pfeil, who is paralyzed and uses a respirator when she sleeps, was staying at Valerie Corral's house the night agents stormed in with assault rifles. They demanded she get up and, when she couldn't, pulled the covers off the bed and handcuffed her.

"It was pretty brutal," Pfeil said.

She said she stuck by the alliance because she was angry. Pfeil thought the DEA targeted WAMM because it was the "cleanest" medicinal marijuana organization in the state. Taking down the collective, which gives marijuana to terminally ill patients free, might have scared other groups out of operation, she said.

"They picked on the wrong collective and the wrong group of people," Pfeil said.

WAMM's STATEMENT TO THE COURT

Here is the text of the statement Valerie Corral made on behalf of herself, WAMM co-founder Michael Corral and other members of WAMM at Friday's settlement hearing.
We begin this missive fully recognizing the advantage that our model of governance provides. Few sovereign states have employed such a separation of power. This fundamental tenet provides a rare opportunity to offer our thoughts.
When liberty is at stake the peril of failure threatens the positive consequences of a society. Every monumental change comes at great risk and finally at even greater cost. Yet, it is due to the courage of countless citizens that we are free to write this and because of their struggle to maintain such principles that we are obliged to do so.
Few arguments have been ignored either in support or opposition, legal or emotional regarding the complex and problematic struggle for access to medical marijuana and the relief of suffering that it provides. In the more than seven years that have passed since the DEA raided our home, took medicine from our collective of critically ill patients and hastened their deaths, every day has been marked by the actions of our government. No wisdom can be gained without experience and no experience without discomfort. These have been discernibly uncomfortable years. Everything has changed, yet one thing has not ceased; that is the unrelenting death of WAMM members, now numbering more than 200. Last week my brother's death increased our number of losses. Having the fortune to sit at the bedsides of people during the most important times of their lives, as they face death, has informed us that there is no man-made law that governs death and no experience short of the journey itself that can enlighten the bewildered mind. While we may bow to the mystery that has yet to be revealed, one thing is certain, there is no better agent of truth than one who rests in the experience.
A society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The interest of society is to protect the rights of its citizens, to preserve civil and natural liberty. That really is our government's job. It is the business of human beings to concern ourselves with the well being of others. It is our social obligation to encourage right action and to assuage suffering. But what then if our efforts to alleviate pain are at odds with our government? As principled citizens we are faced with the timeless "struggle between authority and liberty."
How is it that this debate persists through the development of governing bodies, partisan lines and countless representatives for surely every individual enters into a personal contract with suffering when faced with illness. Were it possible for government to endure our pain then perhaps our social obligation would diminish. But this is not the case and so it becomes the very thing that inspires us to seek justice.
Has justice been served in the wake of our struggle?
Is it enough that we walk away with a just a wink from the Department of Justice? What concession has our government made? Who offers conciliation in trade for our fathomless loss? What guarantee of freedom to pursue our work is provided? Were it not for the court, then we are afraid our voices would be completely silenced. This leaves us both grateful and troubled.
We wish to be acknowledged as the model for dealing with the issues of poverty and health care as no other medical marijuana organization has. We assert that some reparation is due for the casualties realized in the aftermath of the raid; an act so chilling that many members fled from our collective for fear of reprisal, while others died agonizingly because we simply did not have enough medicine to serve them. Their deaths galvanized our efforts and we prepared to endure the obstacles ahead. We gained notoriety for our altruism, but the financial strain wore our foundation threadbare.
Seven years have passed since the day the DEA raided our home and changed our lives and each day we set forth to continue our mission to serve the critically ill and dying, just as we have for more than 17 years. We recognize that it is no small thing for government to concede to actions contrary to law and perhaps, the fact that we persist without interference ought to be enough. But, somehow it isn't.
We hope that over time the federal government will recognize its senseless position on medical marijuana and will formally codify protections for sick, dying and marginalized patients who have the right to use whatever substances their physicians recommend to ease suffering. We are nonetheless, heartened by the federal government's newly declared position suggesting deference to state medical marijuana laws and we are extraordinarily proud of our Collective's role in effecting this change in policy. However, should our government break their word and again pursue their senseless assault on the sick and dying, we stand at the ready and we promise to hold them accountable in a court of law.
 
B

Blue Dot

Holder just said make it "your lowest priority".

All the feds have to do after a bust is say there was nothing more pressing going on therefore this bust was our lowest priority.

Holder said it this way explicitly to allow for this "immunity" for the DEA and prosecutors.

How's a judge gonna prove it wasn't their lowest priority?
 

kmk420kali

Freedom Fighter
Holder just said make it "your lowest priority".

All the feds have to do after a bust is say there was nothing more pressing going on therefore this bust was our lowest priority.

Holder said it this way explicitly to allow for this "immunity" for the DEA and prosecutors.

How's a judge gonna prove it wasn't their lowest priority?

If the DEA says it had nothing else to do...than go after the most Legal Collective in California...and handcuff a disabled lady...then IMHO that should be enough to have the DEA disbanded, as Obsolete--
 
B

Blue Dot

If the DEA says it had nothing else to do...than go after the most Legal Collective in California...and handcuff a disabled lady...then IMHO that should be enough to have the DEA disbanded, as Obsolete--

Good point.

That would be pretty ironic that that would be evidence of their uselessness.
 
Top