Thousands Celebrate Medical Marijuana at WAMMfest

October 1, 2008

Santa Cruz, CA — Thousands of medicinal marijuana patients and supporters attended WAMMfest to celebrate and learn about the herbal medicine Saturday.

Though medical marijuana patients were able to smoke their medicine at the event that featured music, crafts and speeches, that portion of the festivities was in question until this week. After failing to muster the votes to lift the city smoking ban in parks in a prior meeting, the council Tuesday agreed to do so. Only those with a medical marijuana identification card were allowed to smoke in a specially-designated tent Saturday.

Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana co-founder Valerie Corral said the event is an opportunity to normalize the use of medicinal marijuana and bring its members’ stories to the public eye.

“Almost 200 of our members have died in the past 15 years since our inception,” said Corral. “We do this work for a lot of reasons and for all aspects of illness. We get to be with people at the most important time in their lives when they are facing death. We are here to take care of each other and to be by their bedside and it takes you to places you can’t even imagine.”

WAMM is a collective of patients and caregivers that offers free medical marijuana to seriously ill patients with a doctor’s recommendation and aims to, provide hope and build community.

Santa Cruz police reported that there were no problems during the event, and that the festival provided its own security.

Organizers began setting up the celebration of the herbal drug at 6 a.m. Saturday and said by the end of the day they expected to see 2,500 visitors.

Colorful tents filled San Lorenzo Park with vendors offering a range of organic hemp soaps from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps to bright tie-dye shirts and jewelry. Plastic marijuana leaf tiaras were also for sale in addition to sunglasses and hemp bags.

Councilman Tony Madrigal, who spoke at the event, said he was happy the council was able find a compromise that allowed patients to use their medication in a controlled, confined and secure area, while still taking part in a community event.

“This is an example of the community working together with the local government to find a solution for many of the problems the city faces,” Madrigal said. “People are loyal to WAMM and come to celebrate the good work that WAMM does.”

A newly expanded children’s area was moved to the front of the park to invite members of the community to the family friendly event said WAMM member Babianna Mince.

“It’s a family affair here. My husband is working security and I am in charge of the kids area,” Mince said. “We have had about 20 kids come by since noon, which is more than we have ever had.”

A survivor of uterine, bone and breast cancer, Mince said that being a medicinal marijuana patient has allowed her to participate in events such as the festival and get through 40 surgeries within the past five years.

“I feel like after that I can get through anything,” Mince said.

A small memorial for WAMM members who have died was set up by the medicinal marijuana tent, featuring their names and faces.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel

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