AIDS-Cancer Patient Peter McWilliams Released on $250,000 Bail

AUGUST 21, 1998 / LOS ANGELES, CA: Peter McWilliams, who was arrested on medical marijuana charges by the DEA on July 23, 1998, was released after four weeks in federal custody. Peter McWilliams’ mother, Mary McWilliams, and brother, Michael McWilliams, put-up their homes as collateral for the bond.  During his month-long incarceration, McWilliams was denied proper AIDS medication for nine days.  He was also exposed to a variety of contagious illnesses endemic to the “international” population of a federal holding facility, including Tuberculosis and Hepatitis-C.

“My first priority now is my health,” said McWilliams, who will be meeting with his doctors today for a battery of medical tests.

McWilliams, who turned 49 while in custody, was diagnosed with AIDS and Non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March, 1996. He has used medical marijuana since that time to treat the nausea caused by his prescription AIDS and Cancer medications. Denied his prescription anti-nausea medication, Marinol, during his entire incarceration, McWilliams has spent the month in continual nausea. He has lost 19 pounds while in custody. While on bond, McWilliams has been denied any use of medical marijuana, although such usage is permitted under California’s Proposition 215 and recommended by his physicians.

“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.” said McWilliams. McWilliams’ mother, 72, is disabled and has lived in the same house in Michigan for forty-eight years. She was telephoned on Tuesday, August 18, 1998, by the lead federal prosecutor in McWilliams’ case, Fernando Aenlle- Rocha. “This prosecutor has destroyed my health by telling the judge I was getting my medications when I was not,” said McWilliams. “Why must he terrorize my mother as well?”  McWilliams will be meeting with the press as soon as he has had a chance to recover.