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WAMM SET FOR APPEAL TO RETURN SEIZED POT

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Santa Cruz - Attorneys for an area medical marijuana cooperative will
be in federal appeals court Wednesday, seeking return of more than 160
pot plants seized by federal agents in a September 2002 raid.

The Wo/men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana filed the suit weeks after
the raid, seeking return of the plants and other personal items.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel denied the request, except for return
of a computer and other personal items that belonged to WAMM
co-founders Valerie and Mike Corral.

That led to an appeal in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is a sort of symbolic effort, as the plants have likely lost their
medicinal value in the year since they were uprooted during a pre-dawn
raid at WAMM's Davenport garden, if they still exist at all.

"It's to vindicate WAMM and get the 9th Circuit to agree the feds were
overstepping their authority," attorney Ben Rice said.

Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen will make the oral
arguments before the panel, Rice said.

In filing the original suit, attorneys attacked the search warrant
used for the raid, saying probable cause wasn't sufficient to obtain
it.

Valerie Corral said she doesn't expect to get the plants back, but
would like to get something from the federal government.

"I would love to see the government paying us for the plants," Corral
said. "It has been so damaging to us. It has been a difficult time
since the raid."

Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Richard Meyer said due to
policy reasons he could not answer as to whether the plants had been
destroyed or not.

However, he reiterated the federal agency would continue to fight
efforts to return the pot.

"We're the Drug Enforcement Administration, not the Drug Distribution
Administration," Meyer said.

Meyer said he applauded WAMM's efforts to help sick people, but said
they could "help sick people in other ways."

Last year's raid resulted in the Corrals being briefly jailed, but
they released the same afternoon and no charges have been filed.

The latest hearing comes on the heels of a failed attempt to garner an
injunction against the federal government preventing future raids of
WAMM gardens.

The county and city of Santa Cruz joined the medical marijuana
cooperative as plaintiff's in that suit, which attorneys plan to
appeal to the same 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that will hear
Wednesday's case.

Meanwhile, WAMM is holding its inaugural Santa Cruz WAMMFEST benefit
from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz. The
event features music, food and vendors, but is not a "smoke-out,"
organizers say.


Pubdate: Sun, 14 Sep 2003
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2003 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Contact: editorial@santa-cruz.com
Website: Santa Cruz Sentinel: Breaking News, Sports, Business, Entertainment & Scotts Valley News
 
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