The Los Angeles Times

Thursday, December 18, 1997

Agents Raid Home of Writer on Medical Use of Marijuana

By SUE MCALLISTER, Special to The Times

Federal drug agents Wednesday searched the home of a man who is writing a book about the medical use of marijuana and who has been questioned in connection with the arrest of a pot activist, authorities said.

The activist, Todd McCormick, is awaiting trial on charges of growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants. He was arrested July 29 in a rented Bel-Air home filled with more than 4,000 pot plants, which he said he was cultivating to treat his cancer. McCormick said he was also using the marijuana to contribute research to an upcoming book by Peter McWilliams, whose Laurel Canyon home was searched Wednesday.

McWilliams, author of several books on coping with depression, said he was working on his new writing project at 6:30 a.m. when Drug Enforcement Administration agents came to his home with a search warrant.

He said agents spent about three hours searching his home in the 8100 block of Mannix Drive and a house two doors down, where he lived for 11 years and which he still owns. Agents seized his computer and much of the research material for his upcoming book, "A Question of Compassion: An AIDS-Cancer Patient Explores Medical Marijuana," said McWilliams, 48.

A small amount of marijuana that McWilliams uses to ease the pain of his illnesses was also seized, said his attorney, Harland Braun.

McWilliams said he felt he was being targeted because his planned book is highly critical of the DEA..

Growing marijuana for personal medical use was legalized in California when voters approved Proposition 215 in November 1996. When McCormick was arrested, authorities said they believed he was supplying marijuana to cannabis buyers throughout the state.  DEA spokeswoman Sharon Carter confirmed that federal agents searched the two homes and Prelude Press, the West Hollywood publishing company McWilliams owns. She said the search was part of an ongoing investigation, but would not comment on whether the raid was related to McCormick's case or any other.