February 18, 1999

Contact: Rand Martin


Vasconcellos’ Statement about Peter McWilliams

Senator  (D-Santa Clara) today issued the following

statement in supporting Peter McWilliams' entreaty to the federal court that has denied him access to life-preserving medical marijuana while he battles AIDS and cancer as well as drug conspiracy charges:"Today I stand in spirit with my friend of 20 years, Peter McWilliams, as he continues his heroic fight against a federal judiciary that has continued to

thumb its collective nose at the 5.6 million California voters who passed Proposition 215, that has perpetuated the heartlessness of the Clinton

Administration in ignoring the medical benefit of marijuana to thousands of suffering Californians.

"I find myself repeatedly outraged at the federal judiciary's disconnect from the will of their friends, family, neighbors - fellow California voters - who declared in no uncertain terms they want sick and suffering Californians, with the advice of their physicians, to have access to

marijuana for medicinal purposes without criminal jeopardy. The arrogance and inhumanity of the federal judiciary and the Clinton Administration achieve levels of Beltway mentality that rivals the impeachment trial.

"As a result of precipitous action by the court, Mr. McWilliams - whose health was long stable with the use of medicinal marijuana - is now in failing health. He can only keep down his AIDS and cancer medications through the use of medicinal marijuana to deal with his nausea. His viral load has risen from under to 400 copies per milliliter to over 250,000. His

life is in jeopardy. The judge responsible for this decision must be held

accountable for jeopardizing Mr. McWilliams' life.

"Tragically, the federal court in Mr. McWilliams' case has exceeded this arrogance and inhumanity to the point of verging on criminal culpability. The voters of California have said that patients like Mr. McWilliams can have access to medicinal marijuana; how dare the court conclude that Mr. McWilliams has no right to medicinal marijuana BEFORE a jury has determined whether he is in compliance with Proposition 215!

"Two years after the voters passed Proposition 215, the political leadership

in our state is finally in sync with the voters wishes. Governor Davis

appears far more sympathetic than former Governor Wilson; Attorney General

Lockyer has taken a decisive leadership role in making Proposition 215 work;

the leadership in the Legislature supports responsible implementation of

Proposition 215. We are poised to make substantial headway after the 2-year

Wilson-Lungren blockade.

"It is now incumbent on everyone of us Californians to activate ourselves in

convincing the federal government, its executive, legislative AND judicial

branches, that they must abide by the will of the voters. A tidal wave of

support for medicinal marijuana has begun in the western United States; the

future of many federal officials depends, in large part, on whether they

ride that wave into the future or, standing in the way, are rendered

irrelevant by the voters."

I sent the following letter to my e-mail list about Sen. Vasconcellos' press release. In the subject heading I referred to it as his Gettysburg Address. Also see my op-ed piece of September 16, 1999.

February 18, 1999


Since my release on bail in August 1998 for federal medical marijuana

charges, I have not been well enough to tell my side of the story.

I'm still not doing well, but the pending motion before a federal judge,

scheduled for next Monday, February 22, 1999, rallied me to make at least an

effort to lay out the facts.

The ACLU has been kind enough to host a press conference this Friday,

February 19, 1999, at 1:30 P.M. at the ACLU offices, 1616 Beverly Blvd., Los


I wish to thank the ACLU for its ongoing support and for taking on a task I

am simply unable to organize in my current condition.

And, finally, it is with tears in my eyes that I present to you the

eloquence of California State Senator John Vasconcellos.

It has been lonely these past six months since my release. My illness

prevents me from creating, which is my true passion. What little productive

time I have each day is spent preparing for my defense or fending off creditors. (The year-long federal investigation, in which my computer and working papers were seized, the month in custody, and the illness since my release have kicked the life out of my cash flow.)  I cannot have visitors. I do not go out. (Germs, you know. A flu could kill me.) I live the life of a

hermit, laying in bed battling nausea, and going out only for medical appointments and court appearances.

But in reading Sen. Vasconcello's stirring words, written in lightning, I am reminded that I am not alone.

And I am not wrong.

I have not intentionally put my life in jeopardy for an unworthy cause. Like those who tossed chests of tea into Boston Harbor, were stationmasters on the Underground Railroad, were jailed for woman's suffrage and reproductive rights, who stood up to McCarthy, Marched with King, and protested against the War in Vietnam, Sen. Vasconcellos reminds me that getting marijuana to those in medical need it is a worthy cause.

"If you don't have something you're willing to die for," wrote Martin Luther

King, "You're life's not worth living." I have found this to be true. In the

midst of my perhaps-impending death, I have never felt more fully alive.

Sen. Vasconcellos reminds me that a life can be just a letter--a perfectly good letter, but still just a letter--or it can be part of a great sentence. "Marijuana is medicine," is a sentence worth dying for.

Thanks to Sen. Vasconcello's stirring words (he has, in fact, written the Gettysburg Address in the War Against Medical Marijuana), I feel reinvigorated and connected to good people the world over and throughout time, fighting a good fight. I just do mine alone, on my back, in a dark Room.

Yes, I'm another an old whore for freedom.

Take care.


Peter McWilliams