A federal judge will decide soon whether to restrain the U.S. government from acting against a medicinal marijuana users’ group in Santa Cruz, Ca., whose farm it raided in September, the San Jose Mercury News says. Fourteen members of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana have died since Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the group’s co-op in September. For the alliance to have a crop next year marijuana must be planted not much later than mid-July.
In a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel expressed sympathy for the group, which argues depriving its members of medication they say works violates their fundamental rights, and that the marijuana co-op, whose members grow the plants for their own use, is not engaged in interstate commerce and thus is not subject to federal control.
Santa Cruz City Council members showed their support for the co-op by allowing it to hold its regular marijuana distribution on the steps of City Hall 12 days after the raid. Since California voters in 1996 passed a medicinal marijuana initiative, the legal battle is playing out in some respects as a local vs. federal control issue. Judge Fogel noted a parallel with the desegregation cases of the 1950s, when national policy was held to trump local control.