A Statement by Peter McWilliams Concerning Judge Green's Ruling He Cannot Use His AIDS and Cancer as a Defense in His Medical Marijuana Trial

November 7, 1997

Judge Green ruled based on her belief that there was no immediate danger to my health if I stopped smoking marijuana. When I stood before her at my pre-trial hearing, all 220 pounds of me, it was clear that starving to death was not, in my case at any rate, "immediate."

What the judge failed to note was that the three prescription drugs I use to keep the AIDS at bay each cause nausea. Without medical marijuana, I can't keep down the drugs that are keeping me alive. When Judge Green realizes this, I think she will reconsider again. If not we will, respectfully, appeal her decision.

I have no animosity toward Judge Green for her reversal. She is a fine jurist and, considering the political climate in Michigan toward medical marijuana, her original ruling was a bold, and I think correct, one.

Changing one's mind about medical marijuana is, furthermore, a fine Michigan political tradition. Once upon a time, even Michigan's current governor had enough compassion to stand up for the sick. This is back a few years, of course--1982 to be exact. He was Michigan State Senator then. Senator Engler co-sponsored, actively campaigned for, and won the approval of both the Michigan House and Senate, for "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 473." This is a Resolution Governor Engler does not wish to be reminded of. More importantly, he doesn't want the voters to be reminded of it either. (Voters with good memories are so difficult to govern.)

Resolution 473 states clearly the only defense I will ever need for the "crime" of possessing medical marijuana: "Scientific and medical studies show marijuana to be of medical value the Michigan Legislature has enacted, and the Governor of Michigan has signed, laws acknowledging these benefits. They have further sought to establish compassionate programs of medical access to marijuana."

The law referred to was Michigan Public Act 125. Passed in 1978, it was a program for dispensing medical marijuana to those in need. It was sabotaged by the federal government's repeated refusal to give Michigan the medical marijuana necessary for the program. Listen to then--Senator Engler in Resolution 473 tell it like it is to then--President Reagan: "Federal agencies have through regulatory ploys and obscure bureaucratic devices, resisted and obstructed the intent of the Michigan Legislature "

The obstruction continues to this day, except Governor Engler has joined forces with the obstructionists. Public Act 125 was a sunset law--it expired automatically after ten years. In 1987, in the frenzy of a rapidly escalating federal War on Drugs (the United States was about to anoint its first Drug Czar, you may recall), no Michigan politician dared use the word "medicine" and "marijuana" in the same sentence. Public Act 125 was never reintroduced. The sun set, temporarily, on Michigan's compassion.

What Senator Engler asked the President and Congress of the United States for in 1982, I ask the same of Governor Engler today: "The Congress of the United States [is] urged to seek to remedy federal policies which prevent the several states from acquiring, inhibit physicians from prescribing, and prevent patients from obtaining marijuana for legitimate medical application, by ending federal prohibition against the legitimate and appropriate use of marihuana in medical treatments."

Compare this with Governor Engler, September 1997: "No Use! No Excuse!" You can see why Governor Engler would not want someone like me bringing attention to his slide from wisdom to simplistic Drug War phrasemaking. But Governor Engler doesn't speak much about drugs these days. He doesn't have to. He has a personal Drug Czar for that.

Michigan is one of five states with its own Drug Czar. Michigan spends $31 million on a Drug Czar's office on top of the hundreds of millions Michigan already spends on the War on Drugs which is already on top of the $17 billion the federal government spends on the War.

Why Michigan? Perhaps it's the flow of drugs from Canada. Those Canadian drug lords can be awfully nasty. That's why, I suppose, Michigan chose as Drug Czar (remember voting for him?) a man not burdened with academic degrees in pharmacology or public health, but chose (you mean you don't remember voting for him?), instead, a policeman.

His name is Darnel Jackson. He admits to smoking non--medical marijuana "in the past." His job consists primarily in justifying the need for a Drug Czar in Michigan. As such, he works hard for his $72,000 per year. Everyone can sleep soundly tonight--Mr. Jackson has already determined for all the doctors and patients in Michigan that medical marijuana is a "cruel hoax." Remarkably, he has arrived at this conclusion with no medical training whatsoever.

Mr. Jackson vowed in August 1997 to "vigorously oppose" medical marijuana if "they" ever brought it to Michigan. Well, I'm the "they" and I'm here. I am not financed by anyone or anything but myself. There is no "foreign drug money" to finance my "campaign." In fact, no drug money finances me at all. I make my money selling books I have written and printed, a dubious occupation I began thirty years ago in my mother's basement in Allen Park.

Mr. Jackson doesn't want me in Michigan because I have this annoying habit of walking around emperors--and other uninformed people who want to take away my freedom--and saying things like, "That czar doesn't have any more clothes on than the governor." All this political nudity on the subject of medical marijuana is most distressing. I suppose I'm old fashioned: I long for the proper political dress codes of the past.

So, despite today's delay, I will continue to fight for the good old days when a policeman named Jackson wore a uniform and put real criminals in jail and a Senator named Engler--dressed in the magnificent robes of compassion--courageously stood up to the President and Congress of the United States in defense of the sick people of Michigan.

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