By Samantha Clark, Santa Cruz Sentinel
Since 1993, low-income people with serious illnesses have gotten free or low-cost medicinal pot at the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz.
Not only beloved and respected as a model collective, WAMM is also the oldest operating.
But now WAMM faces financial troubles that could close its doors, and it’s turning to the community for help by launching an Indiegogo fundraiser Tuesday to raise $150,000.
WAMM is seeking $1.5 million to buy the private property where members have grown their own marijuana to provide on a sliding scale for more than two decades. The collective also started offering high end products like waxes and oils and is expanding its staff so more people can join.
“It’s a reasonable goal. It won’t buy the land, but it will buy us some time,” said Valerie Corral, who cofounded WAMM with her then-husband Mike Corral. She also coauthored Prop 215, which made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation.
The Corrals let WAMM use their property for awhile before renting it to the nonprofit, but they split up more than a decade ago, so the land needs to be divvied up.
“This is not a failure of WAMM’s social model,” Valerie Corral said. “Maybe WAMM is too dependent on the generosity of Mike and me, but perhaps now is the time that we may see the same generosity from others.”
After a car accident left her burdened with seizures in 1973, they started growing marijuana in their own garden. Once the seizures faded, they shared the cannabis with cancer patients they knew.
Nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the garden now provides medicine to WAMM’s nearly 900 members, some 75 percent of whom have terminal or other serious illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, and HIV and AIDS. Hung next to the garden gate, a sign that reads “Love grows here” welcomes volunteer members who do everything from digging holes to trimming buds.