Oldest pot club in Santa Cruz facing financial problems

May 20, 2007

, Associated Press

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- The city's oldest medical marijuana club could close within months because of a severe drop in donations.

Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, most of its 175 members seriously ill with cancer or AIDS, has reduced the amount of pot it gives away as it struggles financially. It costs $150,000 a year to operate the pot club and donations are down 60 percent.

"It's dire," co-founder Mike Corral said. "Not too far in the future we'll run out of what's available in our bank accounts now. It's a matter of months not a year or years."

The medical marijuana organization opened in April 1993 to grow a communal marijuana garden for patients to share, Corral said. The pot club depends on donations for the bulk of its budget.

But donations dropped dramatically after a raid by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in September 2002. Some 130 marijuana plants were seized and Corral and his wife Valerie were arrested.

Facing possible closure, Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana has made e-mail appeals for public contributions of $5 a month.

"If WAMM were to fold, very poor people would be unable to find medicine," Corral said. "It would cost the city and county more money to supply the services we supply."

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