Profile of Medical Marijuana Activist Valerie Corral

Document Date: September 22, 2005

Medical marijuana activist and ACLU client Valerie Corral

Valerie Corral is a resident of Santa Cruz, California who suffers from daily grand mal seizures resulting from severe head injuries sustained in a 1972 car accident. Over the years, Corral has tried numerous anti-epileptic drugs, as well as strong pain medications like Valium and Percodan. At one point, she became chemically dependent on these pain medications and fell into a drug-induced stupor for nearly two years.

Following her accident, Corral experienced up to five seizures a day that left her debilitated and unable to complete normal tasks without the aid of heavy prescription narcotics. Her dependence on these medications and the severity of her seizures required 24-hour care, which her husband, Mike Corral, provided. In the late 1970’s, Corral and her husband read a medical study about marijuana effectively controlling seizures in rats, and thought that it might help control seizures in humans as well. After trying every seizure medication on the market at that time, Corral tried smoking small amounts of marijuana as a last resort.

She found that marijuana could completely control her seizures. Corral slowly began replacing her 15-pill-a-day regimen of prescription narcotics with marijuana, experiencing no negative side effects. She continued to use only marijuana, and has not suffered a full-blown seizure since.

As a result of her personal experience, Corral has become a nationally renowned medical marijuana activist. She helped author California’s Compassionate Use Act, and founded a hospice care center for Santa Cruz patients who use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms associated with various terminal diseases and conditions. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided the hospice center in 2002, and seized and destroyed patients’ medical marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union currently represents Corral in a suit against the federal government, seeking an injunction against future raids and arrests on the basis that Americans have a constitutional right to alleviate pain and suffering through medical marijuana.

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