DrugSense FOCUS Alert #175 June, 22, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #175 June, 22, 2000 
Posted by FoM on June 22, 2000 at 12:37:06 PT
Peter McWilliams Becomes Drug War Fatality 
Source: MapInc.
Despite grave illness, legal troubles and financial problems, Peter McWilliams always spread the word about the cruel folly of the drug war. Peter was finally silenced last week thanks to the policies he protested so eloquently. An AIDS and cancer patient who was denied medical marijuana while waiting to be sentenced on drug charges, Peter choked to death after vomiting. Considering that he used marijuana to quell nausea from AIDS-fighting drugs, there is no question that court-ordered restrictions of his medical marijuana use helped to kill Peter.
There have been some observers who have noticed this, like William F. Buckley (see below). Unfortunately, many obituaries written for Peter simply said that he died after a long battle with AIDS and cancer. Please write a letter to thank Buckley for exposing the real truth behind Peter's death and/or write a letter to any of the newspapers that ran an obituary of Peter to let them know that Peter's death and many of his recent troubles were all the result of drug prohibition. WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness.CONTACT INFO Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Contact: opinion EXTRA CREDIT The LA Times (and many other papers) ran obituaries that didn't mention the fact that Peter died from a symptom that medical marijuana could have prevented. The LA Times obituary can be found here: Please write to the Times and other papers to let editors and readers know what really happened. Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Contact: letters To find other obituaries and commentary on Peter's death, go to MAP's DrugNews archive at: and click '"go" on the Quick Link box that lists "Peter McWilliams" as a hot topic. All of the following newspapers have printed versions of this story with the same basic information. Please send a copy of you letter to these papers, and your local newspaper as well.  ARTICLE US: Column: Peter McWilliams, R.I.P. URL: Newshawk: There is no justice in the war on drugs! Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Copyright: 2000 The Sacramento Bee Contact: opinion Address: P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento CA 95852 Feedback: Website: Forum: Author: William Buckley Note: Write to William Buckley at Universal Press Syndicate, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111. His column appears in many newspapers. Bookmark: MAP's link to Peter McWilliams items is: PETER MCWILLIAMS, R.I.P. Peter McWilliams is dead. Age? Fifty. Profession? Author, poet, publisher. Particular focus of interest? The federal judge in California (George King) would decide in a few weeks how long a sentence to hand down, and whether to send McWilliams to prison or let him serve his sentence at home. What was his offense? He collaborated in growing marijuana plants. What was his defense? Well, the judge wouldn't allow him to plead his defense to the jury. If given a chance, the defense would have argued that under Proposition 215, passed into California constitutional law in 1996, infirm Californians who got medical relief from marijuana were permitted to use it. The judge also forbade any mention that McWilliams suffered from AIDS and cancer, and got relief from the marijuana. What was he doing when he died? Vomiting. The vomiting hit him while in his bathtub, and he choked to death. Was there nothing he might have done to still the impulse to vomit? Yes, he could have taken marijuana; but the judge's bail terms forbade him to do so, and he submitted to weekly urine tests to confirm that he was living up to the terms of his bail. Did anybody take note of the risk he was undergoing? He took Marinol - -- a proffered, legal substitute, but reported after using it that it worked for him only about one-third of the time. When it didn't work, he vomited. Was there no public protest against the judge's ruling? Yes. On June 9, the television program "20/20" devoted a segment to the McWilliams plight. Commentator John Stossel summarized: "McWilliams is out of prison on the condition that he not smoke marijuana, but it was the marijuana that kept him from vomiting up his medication. I can understand that the federal drug police don't agree with what some states have decided to do about medical marijuana, but does that give them the right to just end-run those laws and lock people up?" Shortly after the trial last year, Charles Levendosky, writing in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star, summarized: "The cancer treatment resulted in complete remission." But only the marijuana gave him sustained relief from the vomiting that proved mortal. Is it being said, in plain language, that the judge's obstinacy resulted in killing McWilliams? Yes. The Libertarian Party press release has made exactly that charge. "McWilliams was prohibited from using medical marijuna -- and being denied access to the drug's anti-nausea properties almost certainly caused his death." Reflecting on the judge's refusal to let the jury know that there was understandable reason for McWilliams to believe he was acting legally, I ended a column in this space in November by writing, "So, the fate of Peter McWilliams is in the hands of Judge King. Perhaps the cool thing for him to do is delay a ruling for a few months, and just let Peter McWilliams die." Well, that happened last week, on June 14. The struggle against a fanatical imposition of federal laws on marijuana will continue, as also on the question whether federal laws can stifle state initiatives. Those who believe the marijuana laws are insanely misdirected have a martyr. Peter was a wry, mythogenic guy, humorous, affectionate, articulate, shrewd, sassy. He courted anarchy at the moral level. His most recent book (his final book) was called "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." We were old friends, and I owe my early conversion to word processing to his guidebook on how to do it. Over the years we corresponded, and he would amiably twit my conservative opinions. When I judged him to have gone rampant on his own individualistic views in his book, I wrote him to that effect. I cherish his reply -- nice acerbic deference, the supreme put-down. "Please remember the Law of Relativity as applied to politics: In order for you to be right, at least someone else must be wrong. Your rightness is only shown in relation to the other's wrongness. Conversely, your rightness is necessary for people like me to look truly wrong. Before Bach, people said of bad organ music, 'That's not quite right.' After Bach, people said flatly, 'That's wrong.' This allowed dedicated composers to grow, and cast the neophytes back to writing how-to-be-happy music. So, thank me for my wrongness, as so many reviews of my book will doubtless say, 'People should read more of a truly great political commentator: William F. Buckley Jr.'" Imagine such a spirit ending its life at 50, just because they wouldn't let him have a toke. We have to console ourselves with the comment of the two prosecutors. They said they were "saddened" by Peter McWilliams' death. Many of us are -- by his death and the causes of it.SAMPLE LETTER To the editor: Supporters of marijuana prohibition sometimes say the war on weed is worth all its drawbacks if it saves one child. But they never acknowledge that marijuana prohibition is killing people, even though no human being ever died from marijuana use. William F. Buckley was completely correct to trace Peter McWilliam's death to the federal war on drugs and the bureaucrats who enforce it. Before ever being convicted of anything, Peter's property, including a book in progress were seized. Then he was denied the right to use effective medicine, despite state law that gave him that right. And when he was tried he was not allowed to use a medical defense. When Peter choked on his own vomit (a symptom he probably wouldn't have exhibited had he been allowed to use medical marijuana) it was last blow in a vicious government assault against an enlightened individual who embodied the injustice of the drug war. I hope Peter does rest in peace, but I hope his death will help to agitate more citizens to fight against the cruel policy that killed him. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared by Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist CannabisNews MapInc. Archives: Articles:Fatal Condition - Reason Magazine McWilliams, R.I.P. in California - National Review from Peter McWilliams McWilliams Passes Away 
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