Charges dropped in Corral pot-possession case
By BRIAN SEALS, SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
September 23, 2005
Misdemeanor pot possession charges against local medical marijuana advocate Valerie Corral were dropped Thursday, but the fight isn’t completely over.
Aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, Corral said she will battle to get back the confiscated pot and seek a change in how the city of Burbank addresses medical marijuana laws.
Corral was charged July 27 for possessing a small amount, about 5 grams, of pot while passing through security at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
She along with husband Mike are co-founders of the Santa Cruz-based Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.
Though only a misdemeanor that carried a $100 fine, Corral planned to fight the charge and go to a jury trial.
At a pre-trial hearing Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court the charges were dropped, said Anjuli Verma, advocacy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project in Santa Cruz.
"What would have come out in court is that the city of Burbank has a policy of prosecuting medical marijuana patients they know are innocent," Verma said.
Corral and the ACLU say they plan to try to get prosecutors to stipulate that she is innocent and will seek return of the marijuana that was confiscated.
"We’re going to get our medicine back," Corral said by cell phone Thursday. "Every gram is important for this organization."Corral and the ACLU also want Burbank to abide by California’s 1996 Compassionate Use Act, Verma said.
Corral’s pot was in a small plastic bag along wither her Santa Cruz County-issued medical marijuana identification card.
A phone call to the Burbank City Attorney’s office was not returned.
California voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition 215, in 1996.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June held that federal authorities may prosecute federal marijuana charges regardless of what laws a state has passed.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer subsequently opined that the ruling had no impact on the validity of California law.