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Medical Marijuana Activist Peter McWilliams Dies
by Don Wirtshafter
Jun 14, 2000
Here are the details I have been able to gather.  It turns out to be a
double tragedy.  Last Sunday, Peter had a major fire in his house.  It burnt
up the entire downstairs including his computer and backups.  Peter was just
weeks away from finishing his book on the ordeal he has gone through.  He was
quite excited about it and motivated to finish it.  I heard the firemen had to
rescue Peter through his upstairs bedroom window.

The loss of this work threw Peter into shock.  He was not able to talk to
anyone these past few days.  The loss of his book was overwhelming to him.

Peter was found in his bathroom choked on his own vomit.  Readers may recall
his posting a few weeks back where he described in detail the routine he had
worked out to quiet his stomach so it would not reject the cocktail of pills
he was prescribed for his AIDS.  Medical marijuana worked perfectly for this
purpose, at the time of his arrest his viral count was down to zero. Federal
Judge George King ordered him not to use medical marijuana while he was on
federal bond.  Because his mother and brother had put up their houses for this
bond, Peter felt obliged to follow this order.  But it meant he could not keep
down his medicine and his viral count.

Over a period of time Peter developed a routine of bedrest and other
precautions so that he could keep down his medicine.  See:
His health began to return but he asserted that there was not way that he
could follow this routine in jail.  He hoped the judge would understand this
and sentence him to a period of house arrest.

Peter choked to death due to the lack of a proper anti-emetic.  Forgive me
for my anger, but it feels to me that he died as a direct result of the
bullshit he was fighting so hard.  California voters passed an initiative so
that seriously ill patients like Peter could use medical marijuana.  Because
the federal government is unwilling to face the reality that marijuana is a
medicine, Goliath had to crush innocent patients like Peter.  For lack of an
proper anti-emetic, Peter died.  I hold the feds responsible.

I pray that somehow a copy of Peter's unfinished work surfaces so that the
world can hear his final message to us.  As a movement we need to find some
way of honoring Peter and his work.  And we need to redouble our efforts to
keep our own government from killing more innocent victims.

  With deep respect and loss,

  Don Wirtshafter
  NORML Weekly Press Release

  1001 Connecticut Ave., NW
  Ste. 710
  Washington, DC 20036
  202-483-8751 (p)
  202-483-0057 (f)

  June 15, 2000

  Medical Marijuana Advocate, Libertarian Author Peter McWilliams Dies

      Los Angeles, CA: Peter McWilliams, a best selling author who suffered
from both AIDS and cancer, passed away in his home in Los Angeles on June
14th. He was 50 years old.

      McWilliams, who was an out-spoken advocate for the medical use of
  marijuana, was arrested along with Todd McCormick in 1998 in a
  high-profile case for cultivating marijuana in a Bel Air, CA, mansion.
  Both men said the marijuana was intended to supply "buyers'
  that serve patients in California. At the time of his death, McWilliams
  was awaiting sentencing on those charges. His story was featured last
  Friday by John Stossel on the ABC-TV news program 20/20.

      He is survived by his mother and brother. No details are yet available
regarding the funeral.


 From: Ann McCormick
  Subject: Libertarians mourn passing of Peter McWilliams
 Date: Thursday, June 15, 2000 9:48 PM
 Libertarians mourn passing of medical marijuana activist
 Peter McWilliams
     LOS ANGELES -- California Libertarians are mourning
 the passing of Peter McWilliams, the #1 best selling
 author of "Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do," "How to
 Survive the Loss of a Love," and "The Personal Computer
 Book," who died in his Los Angeles home yesterday at the
 age of 50.
     McWilliams was an outspoken advocate of medical
 marijuana.  He was diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkin's
 lymphoma in March, 1996 and used medical marijuana to
 combat the nausea caused by his medical treatments.  He
 joined the Libertarian Party in 1998 following a
 nationally televised speech at the Libertarian National
     "Peter McWilliams was a true hero who fought and
 ultimately gave his life for what he believed in: the
 right to heal oneself without government interference,"
 declared Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle.
     "His loss opens a gaping hole in the fabric of liberty,
 but his memory will live on not only in the hearts of
 grateful Libertarians but also in the lives of the
 countless patients who will take up the crusade for
 health freedom."
     McWilliams was arrested in 1998 and charged with
 conspiracy to sell marijuana plants that he had been
 growing to supply cooperatives that serve other medical
 marijuana patients in California.  McWilliams was forced
 to plead guilty after the federal judge presiding over
 the case refused to allow any mention of Proposition 215,
 the landmark 1996 California ballot initiative that
 legalized medical marijuana.
     At the time of his death, McWilliams was awaiting
 sentencing on the marijuana charges.  His health was
 failing after Judge George King ordered McWilliams not to
 use medical marijuana.  According to sources, McWilliams
 was found in his bathroom choked on his vomit.
     "The War on Drugs has sadly produced another
 casualty," said Hinkle.  "Had Peter been allowed to take
 medical marijuana, he could have kept his nausea under
 control and probably prevented his death.  Americans
 should be outraged that the government allowed Peter to
 die, and Judge King should be held accountable for his
 decision -- which amounted to a death sentence for Peter.
     "On behalf of all Libertarians, we send our deepest
 sympathies to his family and friends.  Peter's
 exceptional commitment to liberty and freedom was rare,
 and he will be sorely missed."

 Peter's websites:
 Be sure to check out and download Peter's books available online.
 I especially recommend "A Question of Compassion" Though incomplete, it
 is outstanding.
 The Libertarian Party National Convention is to be held June 30 
 to July 3 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, 700 West Convention Way,
 Anaheim, California
 Please go to for updates and further
 information as it becomes available.
 You can also keep up to date on the case by going to - and -
 (Bookmark and keep checking back for the official opening of Todd's
 site. Renee's site was recently revamped and is now back on line.)
 Todd's will be updated soon.
 The message board for John Stossel (20/20) is:
 Thoughts I think Peter would like us to think about:
 "In the beginning of a change, The Patriot is a scarce man, 
 brave, hated and  scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, 
 the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." 
                                      -- Mark Twain 
 "Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the 
 lot of others. . .they send forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each 
 other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those 
 ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of 
 oppression and resistance." 
 - Robert F. Kennedy 
 As Peter would end this...
 take care~