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US CA: Analysis: The Murder of Peter McWilliams

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Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jun 2000
Author: Richard Cowan
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An Indictment, Not an Obituary

Peter McWiliams, 50, best selling author, poet, photographer, publisher, libertarian crusader, medical marijuana activist, AIDS patient and cancer survivor, was found dead on the floor of his bathroom, apparently having choked to death after vomiting, for want of medical marijuana. 

There will be an autopsy, but whatever the immediate cause of death may have been, he was murdered by the United States Government as surely as if they shot him.  Indeed, it would have been much more humane if they had just put a bullet in his head.  No one should have to go through what he suffered at the hands of his country. 

When I learned of his death yesterday, I was too angry to write about it.  Even now, this is being written more in anger than in sorrow.  Peter is where they can't hurt him anymore, but his murderers are still at large, and if there is anything that Peter would want, it would be for us to continue to speak the truth to power, to tyranny. 

Of course, if Peter did choke after vomiting it would be directly the result of his having been denied the right to use medical marijuana.  Peter was a part of the roughly 40% of those patients for whom the anti-viral drugs being used to treat AIDS can cause violent nausea.  The government knew this from direct observation.  During at least one court appearance he vomited into a wastebasket during the hearing. 

See: How the Government Helps Medical Marijuana Patients: "McWilliams vomited repeatedly in court Friday, prompting guards to keep a trash can nearby."

Dealing with this nausea is one of the best documented uses of medical marijuana, and he had also used it during cancer chemotherapy, when he actually gained weight. 

None of that mattered to the judge.  None of that mattered to the prosecutor.  After all, these are the same people who had held him in federal detention for months on a $250,000 bail, even though he posed no flight risk, the only justification for such a high bail. 

See: Peter McWilliams Still Held on $250,000 Bond; Denied AIDS Medication For Four Days!!! Two Stories

Had he wanted to flee, he had plenty of time to do so before he was charged, but he is a world famous writer, so he could not hide.  His publishing company was there in Los Angeles, and he was taking expensive anti-virals for AIDS.  He really could not flee, but that did not prevent the government from violating his Constitutional rights. 

Consider the lengths to which they went to keep him from raising the bail. 

When his elderly mother pledged her house as security for the bail, they threatened that the government would seize her house if her son simply failed a drug test, not just if he were to flee.  She would not be intimidated, but now her son is dead as the result of the conditions of the bail.  These are the "family values" of America's war on the sick and dying. 

See: "The federal prosecutor personally called my mother to tell her that if I was found with even a trace of medical marijuana, her house would be taken away." -- Peter McWilliams

During his incarceration, 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.  Thus, even if the immediate cause of his death were AIDS, or even suicide, the guilt for his death lies squarely at the door of the Justice Department and the Federal Courts, and the United States Government as a whole. 

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.  And this was murder.  Moreover, it was premeditated, and a part of a pattern of the criminal abuse of power.  Consider the evidence. 

See: Federal Judge Rules Peter McWilliams Cannot Use Medical Marijuana -- Even to Save His Life! -- "They're just going to let me die."

First, Peter would want us to remember that he was merely the most famous victim of a campaign against the most vulnerable members of our society, the sick dying and disabled for whom marijuana is the only effective - or affordable - medicine. 

See: A Message From Peter McWilliams, Prisoner Of The War On The Sick And Dying

Many others are suffering anonymously in our vast prisons, underfunded hospices, and dark little rooms in the slums in our shining cities.  Many others use medical marijuana, but live in fear of their government while doing so.  And they have no choice.  Tens of millions of Americans and countless millions around the world -- have no health insurance to pay for the expensive pharmaceuticals, even if they worked as they are supposed to. 

See AIDS and Medical Marijuana: On World AIDS Day Why Is No One Talking About the Cheapest Way To Help The Most People? Analysis By Richard Cowan

Peter's case happened in California, the first state where the people had passed an initiative, specifically designed to prevent just this sort of cruelty.  Following its passage, the Federal government and its allies among the federally subsidized state narcotics police have done everything to prevent its effective implementation.  This effort continues even now. 

See: Even In The State Capital, California Narks Violate Prop 215 and the Attorney General Won't Do His Duty.

However, Peter made the mistake of thinking that the law meant what it said.  He wanted to provide others with the knowledge to be able to grow their own medicine.  Although the government waited for awhile to arrest him, they did so with their usual pointless show of force.  A large number of heavily armed men ransacked his house very early one morning, after handcuffing Peter.  They seized his computers and ultimately destroyed all of his work in progress.  Naturally, it was about medical marijuana. 

See: Best Selling Author / AIDS-Cancer Patient Peter McWilliams Launches Medical Marijuana Press; Risks Federal Imprisonment in Doing So and Statement Of Author Peter McWilliams To Institute Of Medicine Medical Marijuana Hearings

A few days before Peter's death, there was a fire in his home office that again destroyed all of his work in progress.  I have no doubt that such a loss broke his heart and hastened his death.  Several people have asked me if I suspected the government of having started the fire.  My answer was simply that I have no idea, but given the theft of his work before, and the general depravity of their behavior, and given the fanaticism of the opposition to medical marijuana by both the federal government and the California narks, it is not an unwarranted suspicion. 

See: California Narks Lie to Justify Disobeying Prop 215.  And They Lie About Me In The Process.

In order to justify the suppression of medical marijuana it has become necessary to demonize the medical marijuana users.  If medical marijuana has to be a "crock" to use the Drug Czar's inelegant phrase, then outspoken medical marijuana advocates like Peter must be dehumanized. 

See: Czar Calls Medical Marijuana "A Crock." He Doesn't Know Anything About Medical Marijuana, But He Does Know Crocks.  and Dying AIDS Patient Peter McWilliams Demands Drug Czar McCaffrey Implement Medical Marijuana Recommendations of National Academy of Sciences Institutes of Medicine Report

In fact, the "evil" of which he was originally accused was a conspiracy to provide medical marijuana.  Think about that, 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!

See: The Feds Drop The Other Jackboot; Indict Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick and Others, Alleging Vast Conspiracy To Supply Medical Marijuana and Libertarian Party Says Peter McWilliams Is Victim of Efforts To Discredit Medical Marijuana

The federal government began by denying the relevance of the state law, despite the 9th and 10th Amendments.  However, 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 simply accused him of conspiracy simply 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. 

This might be called the fully uninformed jury strategy.  It nullified the jury's right to know the facts of the case.  Peter would not be the only victim of such an action.  The jurors would have been unwittingly used to justify an evil that would be committed in its name.  There is something especially terrible about involving innocent people in the commission of a crime to pass the moral responsibility on to society as a whole. 

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.  What is the end that would justify such means?

See: Buckley Denounces Prosecution of McCormick and McWilliams In Strongest Terms Yet.  "On the eve of the trial Judge King decided, so to speak, to eliminate the Bill of Rights."

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. 

See: McCormick and McWilliams Plead Guilty to Avoid Ten Year Minimums.  and Judge Rules Against Medical Necessity Defense For McCormick and McWilliams There Cannot Be Even a Mention of Medical Marijuana! Defies 9th Circuit Ruling.  Press Release From McCormick and McWilliams

None of the norms of the various traditions that make up America seem to apply when the subject is marijuana, so Peter's confessing to a profit motive, the most American of motives, was seen by the government as vindicating the persecution of a dying man. 

Righteously triumphant, the prosecution would offer nothing better than letting him throw himself on the mercy of the court in hopes of not having to serve five years.  Given his fragile health, the prosecution could have agreed to probation or even house arrest, but they were opposed to the judge showing more "mercy" than they had.  Through all of this the judge has been craven in protection of the most basic rights and denied all of the defense's key motions.  But he was Peter's only hope.  Now we will never know if there was any shred of decency or mercy behind the black robes of his executioner. 

But never mind these little players who personify Arendt's phrase, the banality of evil.  Before there can be any justice from them or for them, we must take back America from the prohibitionist police state that has highjacked it in what has rightly been called a "slow motion coup d'etat."

See: The Theory and Practice of Treason.  -- 2 Items

It still seems bizarre to me, even after all these years, that marijuana prohibition the suppression of a plant, and especially the suppression of the medical use of a plant -- could be the motive and justification for the total betrayal of all that Peter McWilliams believed, the freedom of American.  It seems even more bizarre that the people of America have let this happen. 

However, thanks to the bravery of people like Peter and other medical marijuana users, the American people are finally waking up to what is happening.  Marijuana prohibition is going to end.  How fast it ends will determine not only how many more tragedies like the murder of Peter McWilliams there will be, but also how much more damage is going to be done to the system and elites that perpetrated this massive fraud -- or just allowed it to happen.  There could be nothing more "conservative" than ending marijuana prohibition tomorrow. 

However, for each of us, the moral case is very simple.  To witness a crime in silence is to commit it.  If we are silent on the murder of Peter McWilliams, and all of the others whose suffering and death pass without notice, then we are as guilty as the judge, prosecutors, and politicians, and police who signed the papers that ultimately became a warrant for judicial murder.  Silence would also make us complicit in the betrayal of the traditions and values that should have protected Peter and all the others. 

The persecution of the sick and dying must end.  And the system that perpetrates it - -- marijuana prohibition -- must end. 

This is a time of profound moral crisis.  Peter McWilliams is dead.  Are you?

See: Peter McWilliams On Non-Violence: "Socrates, Jesus, and Martin Luther King did more for their causes by dying for them than by killing for them." and "It is the love of freedom, not the hatred of tyranny, that will turn this warring parent into an adored embrace." -- Peter McWilliams

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake Archive