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The medical marijuana movement suffered a crushing blow on June 6 when the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 ruling against ANGEL RAICH and DIANE MONSON, two medical marijuana patients from California. The decision came at 7:30am--just 3 1/2 hours after WAYNE MEYER, a WO/MEN'S ALLIANCE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA member, passed away with WAMM co-founder VALERIE CORRAL at his bedside. The next day, WAMM staged a rally downtown to console and uplift members and supporters.

"It was really beautiful to be present at that time with other members, family and friends," says Corral, who was taken into custody by DEA agents when they raided WAMM's garden in 2002. Since the raid, she and her husband and WAMM co-founder MICHAEL CORRAL have been protected by a temporary injunction, but that could change in August when the Raich decision goes into effect.

"The Department of Justice will petition the District Court for a lifting of that injunction," says Corral. "It's very unlikely they wouldn't do that since they are compelled by law to do so." If and when that happens, Corral believes that WAMM is "up for government grabs, I guess you could say."

WAMM's lawyers are in the process of retooling their arguments to focus on what they see as a deficiency of substantive due process--the most high-profile example of which was the case against ED ROSENTHAL, a famous grower and author, who was busted for distributing marijuana to patients in Oakland. In Rosenthal's trial, U.S. District Judge CHARLES BREYER didn't allow the jury to hear the context of the case--namely that Rosenthal was protected by California law (Proposition 215). This omission resulted in a felony conviction, but when jurors learned about the medical marijuana context, several later held a press conference calling for a new trial.

WAMM will argue that juries in medical marijuana cases should have the opportunity to hear all the information surrounding a case--including the state's support of medical marijuana distribution.

Meanwhile, the onus for dismantling the federal government's overriding authority over medical marijuana has passed from the Supreme Court to Congress, where reps like SAM FARR and Massachusetts Congressman BARNEY FRANK contributed their "aye" votes to the HINCHEY-ROHRABACHER amendment, that, according to a press release from Farr's office, "would prevent the DOJ from using any funds in its budget to prosecute people who use medical marijuana in states that allow such use."

Corral says the amendment picked up 13 new votes, but still failed by a vote of 161-264.

"Every time I go to Washington, D.C., it's depressing because I realize that they don't represent us, they represent their own fears," says Corral, whose post-June 6 message remains one of hopeful perseverance.

"We can't give in to the dismal parts of dealing with government, because law doesn't change people's illnesses; only other people can help with that. No law in the world can touch that."

Corral has moved onto a compassionate offensive, issuing a call to the opposition to spend a day in her shoes.

"I would invite anyone in Congress to spend an afternoon with me by someone's bedside who's dying. If they just watch the suffering ebb away from their faces [after using medical marijuana], I guarantee they'll change their minds about it."

WAMM is currently planning a large event downtown on July 16; visit www.wamm.org for more information.

DeCinzo's Puppet Masters?

As the Measure W vote on Felton's water system approaches (ballots will be mailed June 2728), CAL-AM, the corporation that currently owns the water system, continues its charge against FRIENDS OF LOCALLY OWNED WATER, after most of CalAm's requests to change wording in the ballot were rebuffed by Superior Court Judge ART DANNER. Public campaign filing records also show that CalAm funded the legal adventure led by SAN LORENZO VALLEY PROPERTY OWNER'S ASSOCIATION spokesman PATRICK DUGAN. Now CalAm is on a fact-finding mission, having submitted a data request to FLOW that includes information about funding, organization and who contributed to whose campaigns. Nüz couldn't help but note CalAm's 29th and last question, which reads, "Have members of Felton FLOW supplied creative advice to Metro Santa Cruz cartoonist STEVEN DECINZO on cartoons regarding California American Water?"

In an unofficial response, FLOW spokesperson JIM MOSHER told Nüz, "And to think I don't even believe DeCinzo really exists."

W's Opposition

All the exploits of FLOW, SLVPOA and CalAm have, in some people's view, overshadowed another group: Felton residents who like the idea of locally owned water, but think that Measure W stinks.

"After studying the ballot measure and all its supporting documentation," says Felton resident TOM ANDERSON, "we see clearly that Measure W is a bad idea for Felton." He adds that the measure and its ensuing agreements are "terribly written" and "without benefit for the citizens of Felton."

He is joined by other Felton residents who don't feel represented by Dugan's libertarian arguments, but also think FLOW is, at best, painting a rosy picture of the buyout . They've bunched together under the VIA (Valley Information Alliance) banner, and spokesperson BEV KOCH insists that Dugan and CalAm are not members of, nor have they yet contributed money to, their group.

Tannery Forward

Last week, the City Council voted 7-0 in favor of moving forward with the proposed TANNERY ARTS CENTER PROJECT, which will convert the old SALZ TANNERY into an affordable live/work/performance center for the arts. The meeting was extended into the wee hours of the morning (12:30am) to accommodate the public comment period, which was filled up almost unanimously by supporters of the project, prompting Councilmember ED PORTER to comment that this project was the closest Santa Cruz has ever come to consensus on a development effort. As for Mayor MIKE ROTKIN, he, with the help of city staff, handily addressed, dismissed or debunked the few critiques (traffic impacts, eastern UCSC access, potential negative impacts of building shadows on the river, liquefaction in an earthquake, residual toxicity) expressed during public comment. Next stop: fundraising bonanza with BRUCE McPHERSON and TAC project director GEORGE NEWELL. Yeehaw!

Upcoming Variété

TOM NODDY, IMAN LIZARAZU and HACKI are bringing their respective forces of bubble magic, incredible juggling and physical comedy to the Louden Nelson Community Center on Saturday, June 25, at 2pm and 8pm. See www.tomnoddy.com. And WOMENCARE, a cancer support organization for women and their families, is pursuing a $50,000 fundraising goal to earn a matching anonymous donation. See womencaresantacruz.org for more info.

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From the June 22-29, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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