WAMM, Nation's Oldest Medical Cannabis Collective, Celebrates 20 Years

With the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana approaching their 20th year, making it the country’s oldest medical cannabis collective, Medical Marijuana 411 shares in their celebration by featuring Founder and Executive Director of WAMM Valerie Corral

By Sam Sabzehzar  |  March 18, 2013

After a traumatic car accident left her to explore the benefits of medicinal cannabis, Valerie Corral founded WAMM.

Founded in 1993, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is the nation’s oldest continuously operating medical cannabis collective, one that still serves as a model of truly compassionate care twenty years later.

By focusing on the needs of patients and caregivers, WAMM provides hope and builds community while offering a safe, organic supply of medical marijuana to patients with a doctor’s recommendation for the treatment of terminal and chronic illness.

Described as “the gold standard of medical marijuana” by a federal judge, WAMM was founded by Mike and Valerie Corral, a couple in Santa Cruz, California who first started secretly growing marijuana together in the 1970’s, after Valerie found the then illegal herb effective in helping to control her epileptic seizures. Following a pair of arrests, the Corral’s resolved to help others facing similar persecution, and soon local patients started seeking them out.

Since then, what started as a handful of seriously ill patients banding together has grown into a collective membership of more than 250 seriously intentioned citizens. Beyond growing and distributing medical marijuana and related products, WAMM also plays a vital role in advocating for the rights of medical marijuana patients and providers, including by helping pass Proposition 215, California’s medical marijuana law.

In 2002, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided the WAMM garden and destroyed the collective’s entire crop of state-legal medical cannabis. Several members died as a result of being cut off from their supply. In response, less than two weeks after the DEA raid, WAMM gathered on the steps of City Hall, alongside the mayor of Santa Cruz and other local officials, to defiantly distribute free medicine to members.

Next, with support from the ACLU and the City of Santa Cruz, WAMM successfully sued the federal government. The garden was subsequently replanted, and now grows more beautifully than ever.

Today, WAMM membership is open to all California residents with a valid doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana. But please note, we do not sell nor buy marijuana. Each member receives according to need and returns to WAMM according to ability. There are no financial or other demands required for participation. We only recover our costs.

WAMM is widely recognized as a legitimate and necessary community service of Santa Cruz County serving more than 250 seriously ill men and women who suffer from life threatening illness. We do so as a legitimate city agent, functioning in compliance with HS11362.5 and acting in accordance with Santa Cruz City Ordinance SC 2000-06 & 2000-12.

During our weekly support and supply meetings, participants join together to find much needed emotional and social support. Sick and dying people often face discrimination, intolerance and arrest. Problem solving, attention to the personal, empowerment, consciousness and awareness are among the gifts that we are called upon to share.

Our family of members finds a collective voice, a means of relief, and a sense of value within the support systems of WAMM. Over the years clients have emerged from the isolation and fear of a life threatening condition to become part of the WAMM community. And when they face what we must all someday face, the inevitability of death, our end-of-life care teams will be there to see them through it.

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