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California Drops Charges Against Epileptic Who Grew Cannabis


April 1993

California prosecutors dropped felony drug charges against a 40-year-old Santa Cruz woman who had faced up to three years in state prison for growing cannabis she used to control her epileptic seizures (Paul Rogers, "Pot Charges Against Epileptic Dismissed: Santa Cruz Woman Had Faced Prison Term," San Jose Mercury News, 3/27/93, 5B).

Valerie Corral has used marijuana for 18 years to control seizures she began suffering after receiving head injuries in a 1973 automobile accident. Prior to smoking marijuana medicinally, Corral had become addicted to phenobarbital and diazepam (Valium), which she was able to give up after discovering the medical benefits of cannabis.

She was arrested in the summer of 1992 after helicopter-borne narcotics agents involved in the state Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) flew over her house and spotted five marijuana plants in her vegetable garden. Sheriff's deputies returned, seized the plants, and arrested Corral. She was ultimately able to prevail with assistance from her physician, James Ishaq, M.D., who testified that he would prescribe marijuana for her were it legal. Santa Cruz District Attorney Art Danner dismissed charges because he became convinced no jury would convict her. But Danner warned that his decision did not portend a more lenient policy towards marijuana prosecution.

Last November, 77 percent of Santa Cruz voters approved a nonbinding referendum recommending that police and prosecutors use discretion in cases where seriously ill patients were using marijuana for medical reasons.