The same week that protestors took to the streets in Sacramento, movement lawyers were opening up a new legal front in the medical marijuana wars in San Jose. Attorneys for the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (http://www.wamm.org), the Santa Cruz medical marijuana co-op whose garden was raided by the DEA on September 5, filed a motion in US District Court in San Jose Wednesday seeking the return of 130 seized marijuana plants, as well as personal property belonging to WAMM founders Mike and Valerie Corral.
The legal team, led by constitutional law expert and Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen, plans to argue that the federal government has no role in California's medical marijuana laws, Uelmen told the Bay City News Report. Because WAMM did not sell medical marijuana and thus did not engage in commerce, the state -- not the federal government -- should have jurisdiction, Uelman argued.
"[The WAMM case] is ideal because we have such a strong showing that there's no commercial transaction involved," Uelmen said. "This is not a case where the government is closing down a storefront where marijuana is being sold to patients. This is not a drug store."
According to Uelmen, the WAMM case could end up as a test case for the US Supreme Court, which has moved under the stewardship of Chief Justice William Rehnquist to take authority from the federal government and return it to the states. The DEA's raid on WAMM represents a new assertion of federal authority, said Uelmen.
"The federal government is saying now that we have plenary authority to tell doctors how to practice medicine," and that has always been a state-controlled area, Uelmen said.
DEA San Francisco spokesman Richard Meyer was dismissive. While he told the Bay Area News Report he could not discuss specifics of the WAMM case, he scoffed at the idea that the DEA would ever return the seized medical marijuana. "We're not a marijuana distribution center," Meyer said. "We seize drugs."
The motion is set to be heard by US District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel on November 4, but WAMM lawyers warned that more legal mores are forthcoming. "This is only our first salvo," said WAMM co-counsel Ben Rice of Wednesday's motion.
The DEA raid on the squeaky clean WAMM operation may have turned out to be a major tactical blunder. It has sparked a nationally covered medical marijuana giveaway at Santa Cruz city hall with the support of city officials. It has caused lethargic state officials, such as Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Governor Gray Davis, to finally rouse themselves on behalf of their constituents. And it has inspired an ever increasing spirit of resistance from the movement.
And if they wanted to shut up Valerie Corral, they erred badly. The co-founder of WAMM appeared in Sacramento and was clearly unbowed. "We need more nonviolent resistance," she told an appreciative crowd. "They can arrest us, try to intimidate us, try to take everything we've worked for," said Corral. "The federal government knows this is the end. All their screaming and busting people and guns and threats can't stop us. We have the truth."