Sep 232010

Yes, it’s a party, but not that kind of party.

The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, or WAMM, has been around long enough that only the most clueless of Santa Cruz locals mention its name in the same breath as Cheech and Chong.

The organization’s annual public celebration, known as WAMMfest, will mark its seventh year on Saturday at San Lorenzo Park, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. And while WAMM becomes more and more a familiar part of the Santa Cruz landscape, the message that the event is not an excuse for weekend stoners to burn a blunt in public is still something the group feels compelled to repeat.

“It’s not a smoke-out in the park,” said WAMM’s executive director and co-founder Valerie Corral. “We have a general rap that we give, that we have a cordoned-off area where patients can go to medicate, but you have to have your medical marijuana permit card.”

The event takes place noon to 5 p.m. with several food and information booths. Live music from the Duck Island Stage includes well-known Santa Cruz musicians Keith Greeninger, Sherry Austin and Sharon Allen and the bands Wooster and Jason Bond & the Committee. The live entertainment will be hosted by KPIG’s “Sleepy John” Sandidge.

WAMMfest represents the organization’s most prominent opportunity to interact with the public. Corral said the collective’s guiding motto is, “It’s not about pot, it’s about people.” In that respect, WAMM offers health care services for people with chronic and terminal illnesses, including not only access to a safe supply of medicinal marijuana but the Design for Dying project that provides 24-hour service for patients facing death.

Corral stressed that the WAMMfest is a day devoted to fun and relaxation — “We’ll also have poetry and politics and games for everyone.” But she said, the organization has to be mindful of security, and works to ensure recreational marijuana use is not part of the festivities.

“We keep it clear what our intentions are,” she said, adding that WAMM has a security team on hand to keep things safe and stress-free for everyone. “But really, in recent years, we haven’t had much problems with unauthorized marijuana smoking. We have more trouble with cigarette smokers.”

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