The death of Peter McWilliams, 50, best selling author, poet, photographer, publisher, libertarian crusader, medical marijuana activist, AIDS patient and cancer survivor is first and foremost a human tragedy. But when someone so talented dies, we can never know how much more that person may have given the human race. All of us are the poorer.
Peter was just that talented. His best-selling poetry and self-help books were an inspiration to many people in times of sorrow. His book, Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do, was quickly recognized as the ultimate defense of personal freedom. That fact makes the circumstances all the more ironic and bitter.
He was found dead in his bathroom, apparently having choked to death on his own vomit. Peter was one of the roughly 40% of those patients for whom the anti-viral drugs being used to treat AIDS can cause violent nausea. He had found that only marijuana relieved this nausea and made it possible for him to use the medications that controlled his AIDS.
Consequently, after the success of California’s medical marijuana initiative in 1996, McWilliams decided to publish a book about the plant that had saved his life. He hired medical marijuana activist, Todd McCormick to write the book and to experiment to see which strains worked best ? and grew best. This meant a lot of plants, and that opened the door for federal “conspiracy” charges. Think about it, a conspiracy to provide the sick and dying with something to help them in a state where the people had voted for just that. What a crime!
Although punishment is supposed to begin after the accused has been convicted, the federal government seemed intent on punishing ? even killing ? Peter from the time of his arrest. Even though he posed no flight risk, he was held for almost two months, until he could raise $250,000 bail. And the feds did everything possible to block that. When his elderly mother pledged her house, the prosecutors called and told her that if he smoked marijuana, she would lose her home!
As a result, his AIDS viral load, which had been “undetectable,” soared to dangerous levels. Peter was also very fragile psychologically. Aggravated by his health and legal problems, he often suffered from debilitating bouts of depression. Certainly, he was badly damaged by being in federal detention, and he knew from that experience that he could not survive very long if he were sent to prison.
The federal government did everything possible to be sure that he would not get a fair trial. They began by denying the relevance of the state law, despite the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Bill of Rights.
When it realized that a “medical marijuana conspiracy” would raise issues that might make it difficult to get a jury to convict a person with AIDS, they changed the charges and accused him of simply conspiring to grow marijuana.
Then they moved to deny him the right even to mention having had cancer and AIDS ? or make any reference to medical marijuana. This denied him the Anglo-Saxon common law right of claiming a “necessity” to break the law, because doing so prevented a greater harm. Surely growing a plant that saved your life would be such a necessity.
Confronted with the inability to defend himself, Peter had no choice but to take a “plea bargain,” such as it was, and so he confessed to the crime of having hoped to make money in America. He was awaiting sentencing when he died.
Thus, to prosecute a dying man for plotting to grow a plant, the federal government trampled on the laws of California, the Bill of Rights, and Common Law.
The fact remains that if an individual did what the federal government did to Peter McWilliams, deliberately deprive him of medicine that would save his life, that person would be indicted for murder.
But Peter was no ordinary person. By killing him, the federal government proved that they would stop at nothing.
If they can get away with killing a world famous author?
Well, can they?
? Peter McWilliams’ personal website, including all of his books, is at: www.mcwilliams.com