Valerie Corral is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana and Raha Kudo, Design for Dying Project.
Origin of Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
In 1973, while driving though Nevada, a small airplane swooped down and scraped Corral's car, sending her "skidding, rolling and bouncing 365 feet through the dust, brush and rocks." As a result of the accident, Corral's injuries included brain damage, epilepsy and severe migraines. Despite taking prescription drugs, Corral continued experiencing convulsions, shaking and grand mal seizures. Having read in a medical journal that marijuana controlled seizures in mice, Corral's husband recommended that she give the drug a try—she has maintained a steady level of marijuana in her system since then, finding that it helped alleviate her symptoms.
In 1992, Valerie and Mike Corral were arrested by the local sheriff for the cultivation of five marijuana plants, which spurred her into the political arena. As a result, Valerie became the first patient in California to challenge existing law and use a defense of necessity for medical marijuana. Prosecutors dismissed the case, claiming they were unlikely to win before a sympathetic jury in liberal Santa Cruz. After the sheriff arrested the Corrals again one year later, the district attorney stated he had no intention of ever prosecuting them, requesting that the police leave the couple alone. The Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) was started at this time (1993).
Valerie was a key-player in the crafting and passage of Proposition 215 (also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996), which allowed patients with a doctors recommendation to use marijuana medicinally. WAMM became the first medical marijuana collective to be granted non-profit status in the United States. WAMM is also considered to be the most legitimate medical marijuana collective and cooperative in the nation.
While Mike and Valerie were supported by local authorities to protect them against theft and distribution, federal authorities maintained that growing, using and distributing marijuana was illegal. To provide legal protection, Santa Cruz deputized the Corrals in 2000 to act as medical marijuana providers.
Corral founded a hospice care center for patients who use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms associated with various terminal diseases and conditions. She has provided personal care and comfort to hundreds of individuals during their passage to death, including Laura Huxley, with whom she was a close personal friend. Close to 200 WAMM members have died since the conception of the group. Valerie Corral has been by the bedside of most.
2002 DEA raid
On September 5, 2002, armed federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the WAMM garden weeks prior to their annual harvest, arresting the Corrals and destroying all the collective's medicine (150 plants). Valerie and Mike were detained and later released. The government never filed charges, though the Corrals decided to challenge the federal ban with assistance from Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen and advocates at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Several weeks later, WAMM handed out medical marijuana on the steps of city hall in Santa Cruz, California. WAMM members, whose illnesses include multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS, came out in support of their organization. Many protests and media articles followed the raid, and the DEA received unfavorable worldwide media attention as a result of the raid against the terminally ill.
Despite the raid in 2002, Valerie and Mike Corral continue to operate WAMM out of Santa Cruz.
Valerie played a key role in drafting SB 420, which expanded many definitions and provisions for patients in California.
Lawsuits and court cases
Valerie Corral has been at the forefront of several lawsuits against the government. The most recent court case is County of Santa Cruz v. Mukasey, in which the City and County of Santa Cruz signed on with WAMM to sue the federal government.
Judge Jeremy Fogel recently allowed discovery for the plaintiffs, which allows WAMM's lawyers to ask the federal government very specific questions in regard to their enforcement of California's medical marijuana laws. An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) press release stated the following:
In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a federal court today held that the U.S. Constitution bars deliberate subversion by the federal government of state medical marijuanalaws.
Valerie has also been involved with Conant v. Walters, County of San Diego v. San Diego NORML, and Craker v. DEA.
In the most recent rejection of medical marijuana by the Federal Government, the DEA denied Professor Craker, Valerie Corral, and MAPS request to end the federal governments monopoly on medical marijuana production and research.
From an ACLU Press Release:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bush administration struck a parting shot to legitimate science today as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to end the unique government monopoly over the supply of marijuana available for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved research. DEA’s final ruling rejected the formal recommendation of DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner, issued nearly two years ago following extensive legal hearings.