A Third Party Victory is Inevitable  

By: Andrew Looney (pictured, right)

Part 2: I'm Outraged!

I used to think we were doing the right thing, fighting this war against drugs. But during the course of the last 10 years, I have developed doubts, followed by concerns, and finally, objections. But now I'm angry. The prosecution of the sick and dying in states with legalized medical marijuana, the government's overall disregard for the will of those states' voters, and in particular, the death of Peter McWilliams, have all made me madder than ever about this horrible and destructive policy. I'm outraged!

The Murder of Peter McWilliams

In what has got to be one of the most ironic tragedies of all time, Peter McWilliams, the man who literally wrote the book on the absurdity of consensual crimes in a free society, is dead. He was a victim of the criminal "justice" system that enforces the very laws he so eloquently spoke out against, and his death stands as absolute proof that the suppression of medical marijuana is killing the seriously ill patients for whom no other treatments are effective.

And since this happened in a state where medical marijuana is supposed to be legal, I put the blame for his death squarely at the feet of President Clinton (*and* Al Gore), since this administration has done everything in its power (and many things beyond it) to over-ride and over-rule the will of the voters on this matter. How many more must die before we adopt a rational and humane marijuana policy?

Peter McWilliams had Cancer and AIDS. An assortment of drugs, mostly legal prescription drugs, were keeping him alive... but they made him terribly nauseous, and constant vomiting makes it difficult to keep those pills down, to say nothing of food in general. Peter suffered therefore from AIDS wasting syndrome in addition to everything else, and might have died long ago if it weren't for pot.

Fortunately, since smoked marijuana is a drug you don't have to swallow, it singularly alleviated his nausea, allowing him to eat as well as keep down those other drugs that kept the AIDS and cancer at bay. He gained back the weight and became remarkably healthy for a man with cancer and AIDS.

And then he got arrested, for growing plants (or more accurately, for being part of a conspiracy to grow plants).

He went through a farce of a trial, in which the judge refused to allow him to testify about his medical need for marijuana, and when he died was about to receive an undoubtedly harsh jail sentence (like his co-conspirator and fellow cancer sufferer Todd McCormick did -- he's in prison now, and for the next 5 years).

And all of this happened in California, a state where medical use for cases like these was approved in a popular vote four years ago, by a wider margin than the election of Bill Clinton.

But here's real the kicker: It wasn't the AIDS or the cancer that got him. It was the vomiting. Having been effectively compelled not to smoke pot by harsh threats and daily urine testing, he had nothing to quell his intense nausea.

His health immediately began to fail again, and one day he was found dead on the bathroom floor, having choked to death on his own vomit. (What a horrible way to die.) Marijuana itself may not be causing any deaths, but the war on marijuana certainly is.

The whole thing just leaves me absolutely outraged. Peter wrote many great books, including Life 101, Love 101, How to Survive the Loss of a Love, and other self-help books that have made a real difference in the lives of thousands of people.

He accepted a plea bargain because he didn't want to die. He still had more to give the world. "I don't want to be a martyr for this movement," he said, "it already has enough martyrs." But he died a martyr nonetheless, and the world is a poorer place without him. (The text of all of his books, including Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do and the medical marijuana writings he was working on when he died, are all available for you to read online, for free.)

Peter McWilliams was just one person, but he represents millions of others who are continually having their lives interfered with, utterly ruined, and even taken from them completely, all for the shameful suppression of one of nature's most useful and easily renewable natural resources.