US District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, California, dismissed a lawsuit against the federal government filed by the city and county of Santa Cruz and a raided medical marijuana dispensary, Wo/Men's Access to Medical Marijuana (http://www.wamm.org) on August 27. But Fogel also expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs and left them an opening to re-file the suit.
WAMM was raided by the DEA last September and 167 plants were seized, but WAMM operators Mike and Valerie Corral have never been charged with a crime. Shortly thereafter, the city of Santa Cruz made national headlines by allowing the distribution of medical marijuana to take place at city hall.
While other lawsuits attempting to block further federal raids have been filed, the suit jointly filed by WAMM and the city and county governments marked the first time a local or state government had joined such an action. In dismissing the suit, Fogel wrote that he is "acutely mindful of the suffering" of medical marijuana patients "and of the evidence that medicinal marijuana has helped to alleviate that suffering. As it commented at oral argument, the Court finds the declarations of the Patient-Plaintiffs deeply moving."
But despite his sympathies and the express will of California voters, "the legislative and executive branches of the federal government have a different view, and in a federal system that view is controlling unless the federal government is acting in excess of its constitutional powers." Plaintiffs had not made such a showing, Fogel ruled, but left open a new hearing if they could make such a showing.
WAMM and Santa Cruz will appeal the decision, said Dan Abrahamson, legal affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance and co-counsel in the case. "Sadly, the court's decision runs against justice, compassion and humanity, and will cause more people to suffer needlessly," he told a post-hearing press conference. "While we are clearly disappointed, we plan to appeal this decision and fully expect a more favorable outcome in the next court."
And the DEA? "For us," San Francisco DEA spokesman Richard Meyer told reporters, "it's going to be business as usual."
You can help WAMM if you live near Santa Cruz by attending the WAMMfest benefit event on September 14. Visit http://www.marijuana-art.com/WAMMfest/ for further information.