For IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 17, 1997 Los Angeles
AUTHOR-PUBLISHER, AIDS-CANCER PATIENT HAS WORK ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA SEIZED BY DEA.
Starting at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time, nine DEA agents thoroughly and systematically went through the personal and business records of medical marijuana advocate Peter McWilliams and his publishing company Prelude Press, Inc.
McWilliams suffers from AIDS and cancer and uses medical marijuana to ease nausea. McWilliams had been openly critical of the DEA's stance on medical marijuana. McWilliams is the publisher of the Medical Marijuana Magazine online and placed a two-page ad in the Daily Variety on December 1, 1997, criticizing DEA Chief Thomas Constantine's threat that a criminal investigation would be launched into the creators of Murphy-Brown, a fictional medical marijuana user.
The DEA seized McWilliams' computer, which contained the entirety of his creative work since his diagnosis in March of 1996. "They took it all, even the backup copies," said McWilliams. The main project on the computer was the manuscript for McWilliams’ book "A Question of Compassion: An Aids-Cancer Patient Explores Medical Marijuana." "I spent almost two years on that book, and I wonder if I'll see it again." The book was decidedly critical of the DEA's actions in overriding the will of the people of California concerning medical marijuana.
Also seized were numerous research materials about medical marijuana McWilliams had been gathering. "It's surprising how friendly and casual they can be while they are destroying your life, " said McWilliams of the search and seizure of his creative output. "They systematically went through every paper in my house and office. Clearly they were looking for something more than drugs."
Since beginning use of medical marijuana in March 1996, McWilliams has been arrested in Michigan for marijuana possession and faces a one-year imprisonment, his car was impounded in Nevada at a speed-drug trap for less than one ounce of marijuana, and the DEA had already subpoenaed McWilliams’ medical and business records. "Without my computers, I am out of the publishing business. Fortunately, the web site is on the computer of my Internet Service Provider, but articles I was working on for the Medical Marijuana Magazine have been seized."
McWilliams was handcuffed during the three-hour search, but was not arrested. McWilliams is the author and publisher of more than 35 books which have sold more than ten million copies. His books have appeared five times in the New York Times best-seller list. McWilliams celebrated 30 years as a self-publisher in June. His books include "How to Survive the Loss of a Love, How to Heal Depression, and Ain't Nobody's Business-Tif You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country," a book openly critical of the drug war.