While other Wo/Men s Medical Marijuana Alliance members roll marijuana… (DAN COYRO/SENTINEL)
DAVENPORT – On Sept. 5, 2002, the country was debating whether to invade Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, just as it was bracing for the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Stocks were still down, but the Oakland A’s had just notched their record 20th straight win.
Early that morning, 30 federal Drug Enforcement Agency-led law enforcement officers stormed the Wo/Men’s Medical Marijuana Alliance, a high-profile collective with a small pot farm outside Davenport, chopping down plants and setting off a furor with lasting impacts on the statewide medical marijuana debate that endures today.
“I just remember waking up at 6:45 a.m., because I heard vehicles in the driveway of the house I was in,” recalled WAMM’s Mike Corral recently, who looked out to see agents carrying a battering ram. “We always knew that there was this possibility of the feds doing something. [But] at the time, we were the darlings of the medical marijuana movement.”
Founders Mike and Valerie Corral were never charged, but the raid spurred a lengthy court case, contributed to local suspicions of federal law enforcement and beatified the Corrals as the spiritual center of the medical marijuana movement. Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the raid, and several key figures reflected on their roles.
“I think that event was one of the most important developments in the growth of understanding about medical marijuana in the country,” said local attorney Ben Rice, part of an all-star legal team that leaped to the Corrals’ defense.
But for a long time, prison was a real possibility. For Valerie Corral, the saga began when she heard boots crossing her porch. She knew who it was before she saw them, but said she was inoculated by calm.
GUN TO HER HEAD
“Something happened when they pushed me to the ground and put a gun to my head,” Corral recalled. “It’s hard to say exactly what it was. I wouldn’t say I felt safe with a gun to my head – I’m not trying to make light or change the image – but there was something that came together and strengthened inside of me.”
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