Pubdate: Tue, 1 Aug 2000
Source: Liberty Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2000 Liberty Foundation
Contact:  Box 1118, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Author: Peter McWilliams


On July 4, 1998, Peter McWilliams addressed the Libertarian Party National

Thank you, thank you very much. Good afternoon. Where are the Teleprompters?
How am I expected to do a political speech without a teleprompter? You mean,
I'm just supposed to stand here and say what I think and believe? What kind
of political party is this?

I want to tell you about a pair of epiphanies that I had in 1996. The first
happened in March of 1996 when I was diagnosed with both AIDS and cancer. I
tell you this early on because I want your sympathy throughout the rest of
this speech. When you mention AIDS or cancer, people are so afraid of their
own death that they treat you very nicely.

Remember that. For example, I am going to demonstrate it here. I am going to
show you how much sympathy this audience currently has. As an AIDS patient,
if Bill Clinton had followed his campaign promise to start a Manhattan
Project-style federal program to end AIDS, I would not have AIDS today.

Do you see how much sympathy I'm getting? Normally somebody saying that at a
Libertarian event would be booed off the stage. Because, in fact, if Clinton
had started his federal Manhattan Project-style cure for AIDS, I wouldn't
have AIDS now.

I'd be dead.

It's the greedy pharmaceutical companies who wanted to exploit and profit
from my misery and my tragedy who are keeping me alive today. Speaking of
greedy manufacturers, tonight those of you coming to the banquet will
receive a free copy of my book, Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do, as sort
of a first course. I do this not because I like any of you, but because I
get to hold this up on C-SPAN. That wasn't a shameless plug; the book is
online, as all my books are, for free, at So that
was a plug to go online and read the book for free, please.

Back to March 1996. I was being pumped full of chemotherapy, which causes
nausea, and radiation, which causes nausea, and AIDS medications, which
cause nausea, and none of the prescription antinausea medications were
working. The nausea, however, ended instantly with medical marijuana. With
one puff of marijuana, the nausea turned to hunger. Thank Mother Nature for
that (Mother Nature is one of Nature's Gods, from the Declaration of
Independence). Medical marijuana has been around for more than 5,000 years
and it hasn't killed anyone.

It is astonishing how well it works.

And you have to understand how serious it is when you can't keep your
medication down -- it's not just uncomfortable, if you can't keep that
medication down, it's not going to save your life. And that is the important
point. We're talking about life and death when we're talking about treating
AIDS and cancer. Half the people not taking the AIDS combination therapy --
some 40 percent of all who try -- do so because of nausea. This is a shame,
because the AIDS medications are working so well for those who can tolerate
them. I am one of them. But 20 percent stop because of nausea. I wonder how
many of those 20 percent, if they had access to legal inexpensive marijuana,
would have that same problem. Every day people are denied cancer
chemotherapy because the doctors stop treatment knowing that they will die
of malnutrition if they go another day without eating. Nausea is an unsolved
problem of medicine and marijuana is the finest antinausea medication known
to science.

At the same time our leaders have lied about this consistently. Our leaders
whom we trust, whom we look up to. From the Democratic president to the Drug
Czar to the Republican leaders in Congress, in both the House and the
Senate. They have lied to us about medical marijuana. They have lied to us
about the harm of marijuana. There is no more benign medicinal substance
known to human beings. And we have been lied to about this. And so this was
my first epiphany, watching my normal run to the bathroom, with one puff of
marijuana, turn into a meandering raid on the kitchen. And with that
epiphany I said, "I am not going to rest until medical marijuana is
available to every sick person who needs it in the United States."

Epiphany two came exactly two years ago, probably today, when I lay in bed
smoking marijuana -- see, I hadn't smoked marijuana for a couple of decades.
I believed all those lies having to do with lack of mental, um, uh,
clarity... and short term.., where was I? Anyway, all of that nonsense is
really a lot of nonsense and boy, do I regret those two decades I wasn't
smoking pot. I can honestly say I was not a pot smoker until I started using
medical marijuana. So there I was in July two years ago and I was smoking
pot and boy, was I enjoying myself. And I was channel surfing, and I was
smoking pot, and I was really grooving on this whole thing called
chemotherapy. And I flip to these people talking, mostly men with pot
bellies and t-shirts, and they would be talking and one of them would tell
the truth, and I kind of sat there stunned -- who expects the truth on

So there I was watching, and one person would tell the truth, and then
another person would tell the truth, and then another person would tell the
truth. What on earth is going on, I mean, this must be really good pot. It
turned out to be the Libertarian National Convention. I said, oh great. But
then I thought, where is it, in Denver? Because you see, in 1993, when I
completed Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do, I wanted to join and praise the
Libertarian Party and in 1993 I called information in Washington, D.C. and
there was no listing for the Libertarian Party. I called 800 information;
there was no listing for the Libertarian Party. And I thought, as much as I
love these people, someone who doesn't at least have an answering machine in
Washington, D.C. can't be very serious about the whole political thing.

So you can imagine my epiphany when here, totally without my interference,
the libertarians had matured into a political party. And then in the two
years, the two years in which I have been single-mindedly working on medical
marijuana, when I wasn't ducking bullets, the Libertarian Party got an
entire office in Washington, D.C., until today, now, July 4, 1998,
Washington, D.C., my two epiphanies meet in this speech before the
Libertarian National Convention.

Although I have not joined the Libertarian party yet, I know I stand for a
lot of [audience begins yelling for McWilliams to join the Libertarian
Party] -- remember, I have AIDS! Come on; get that sympathy up, huh? Come
on, back, back! Boy, it's like saying I haven't accepted Christ at a
Christian Coalition meeting. Down! I never thought I'd tell a Libertarian to
be less aggressive politically. I thought those were words you'd never hear
out of my mouth.

I would like to suggest to you that you -- not necessarily the party but you
individually, maybe not as a party plank but more as a pet project, kind of
a little Chia pet project --actively work for medical marijuana in this
country. I have four reasons for this. The third one is in your own best
interest, so listen up when I get to the end of number two. The first two
are that I believe medical marijuana currently stands for the most hideous
ongoing example of government interference in the private lives of
individuals today.

The first reason: Medical marijuana prohibition is an outrage within an
outrage within an outrage. The first outrage, of course, is the War on Drugs
itself. Prohibition does not work, has not worked, cannot work, and anyone
who says it can is either deeply delusional or is making money on the drug

The next layer of outrage is marijuana prohibition. Marijuana 61 years ago
was unjustly criminalized based upon lies by the self-serving drug czar of
his time to a Congress who lapped it up like milk because it was hot and
they wanted to go home. It happened in the summer. And so they voted in the
Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 after ninety seconds of debate. The prohibition
has been unrelenting. More than 12 million Americans have been arrested for
marijuana since that time. This is a plant that has never hurt anyone in
5,000 years in a country where 400,000 people die prematurely of cigarettes
and 100,000 people die prematurely from alcohol. That this herb, this plant,
this weed should be so illegal in this country that since the 1995 Omnibus
Crime Bill if you possess enough of it, our government will put you to
death. If you don't think marijuana is still prohibited keep in mind that
645,000 people were arrested in 1996 alone, the most ever. That's one arrest
every 48 seconds. Meanwhile we have a speaker of the house and a president
and a vice-president who have all admitted to smoking marijuana. These are
pothead baby boomers and it's outrageous that they should put their fellows
in prison.

Finally, the outrage within the outrage within the outrage is the War on
Drugs, unlike any war in American history, unlike any modern civilized war
of the past two centuries. In this War on Drugs they are not stopping the
battle and allowing the Red Cross on the field. In fact, they are shooting
directly at the sick and at those who are trying to help them. And they are
shooting to kill. A friend of mine named Todd McCormick was arrested for
growing marijuana in his own home after Proposition 215 passed in California
that allowed for cultivation. He had cancer nine times before he was 10. The
DEA came in, destroyed his plants, and wants to put him in prison for the
rest of his life, a ten-year mandatory minimum. Plus a $4 million fine.
That's shooting to kill. It's been going on for 11 months now.

As you know, the DEA and their bosom buddy, the IRS, have investigated me
for 11 months now. The DEA and the IRS came into my home and they took away
my computer containing a book on medical marijuana and a book critical of
the DEA, which very quickly became three books critical of the DEA.

Don't tread on this faggot.

You know, the only way to discharge the hate words of the bigots of the
world is to embrace them. When I was growing up, queer was the worst thing
you could possibly call anybody. I don't know where the word faggot was in
my town, but queer was the worst. And then all sorts of people started
calling themselves queers, all sorts of gay people, and now it's a perfectly
acceptable word. You yell "Queer? and they'll go, "What, yes?" And I think
it's the same thing with faggot. It's like legalizers. That's the new
demonized buzz-word, like communist. If they accuse you of being a
legalizer, please, don't resist. Say, "Yeah, I'm a legalizer, absolutely. I
believe that everything should be legally sold in the free market, equally
and open to competition. That's what I believe as a libertarian."

You know, of all the compliments I got for Ain't Nobody's Business if You
Do, from people as diverse as Archbishop Tutu and Sting and Hugh Downs and
Larry King, all those people were very kind, but the thing that meant the
absolute most was when Milton Friedman, unasked, sent me a very nice letter,
and Milton is a great hero of mine, and I know of many people in this room.
If you're watching, Milton, know that we send you our love and Nature's
God's blessings, from the Libertarian Convention. [Applause.]

When I say medical marijuana is the most egregious ongoing federal
intrusion, there are, of course, incidents that are worse. There's Ruby
Ridge, there's Waco, there's William Bennett getting his own children's show
on PBS .... These are greater outrages of the federal government going where
it never should have gone in the first place.

You know, the DEA agents who came into my house and even the two federal
prosecutors who would prosecute me and try to put me in prison for the rest
of my life, they're patriots. They are doing something for their government,
and they're doing it because they love America, because they love the United
States, because they think they are protecting and defending the
Constitution of the United States. They believe this, they just
misunderstand the facts, and they're caught in a bureaucracy that won't
teach them. These are ordinary, decent Americans. Anybody who's willing to
go into covert operations and put their lives on the line like that for
their country, is a hero.

So here's William Bennett, on the other hand, who I think is personally
culpable for this entire mess we're in right now. The fact that the man
would ride through a Republican administration, first of all leeching off of
the NEA, and then he went to the Education Department, and then he
ingratiated himself very carefully, just like Iago misleading Othello, with
Bush as Othello, and Bennett as Iago, and Lady Liberty there [points to
large replica of Statue of Liberty onstage] as Desdemona.

About now young people are saying, "What the hell is this guy talking
about?" [Member of the convention yells, "That's because they went to public

I don't know why libertarians have this image as being dry and kind of
living in desert climates and being on a ranch all day, I don't know what
this is all about because libertarians have the best sense of humor of all.
We can laugh at everything! Because if we're not enjoying the moment, what
the hell is there? It's a very Zen party.

So, William Bennett is personally responsible for the fact that needle
exchange was not put into effect 10 years ago. Ten years ago the studies
were there showing that needle exchange significantly reduced the spread of
AIDS and at the same time did not increase the use of drugs. Bennett at the
time said yes, of course, we care about the AIDS epidemic, but we care about
the signal we're going to send our children more. He personally fought for
and got not only not federal funding for needles, but also got them made
illegal. As a direct result of him, 200,000 heterosexual people in this
country now have AIDS. It is about the only way AIDS got into the
heterosexual population. One-third of all AIDS cases now are from drug use
or their partners. Sixty percent of all new AIDS cases next year will be
female partners of those 200,000 people who got it intravenously and will
pass it on to their lovers, wives and children, often without even knowing

Thank you, William Bennett.

Ten years later, the government finally admits that, yes, indeed, needle
exchange works, it doesn't make drug use go up, and it certainly reduces the
spread of AIDS. Who in the entire administration fought the hardest and even
went to the Republicans in order to get federal funding for needle programs
banned? Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. So I move that we call heterosexual AIDS
the Bennett/McCaffrey illness, or the BM disease.

We all know that William Bennett has been taking money from dark
organizations so that he can continue to perpetrate the War on Drugs so the
dark organization can continue to prosper. One of those is the Partnership
for a Drug-Free America. Bennett is bribed. You sit in his office, and all
day long these platinum Halliburton cases go in full and they go out empty;
they go in full and they go out empty. They're full of éclairs.

Have you seen that man? I'm fat, but he's obese. Not that I have anything
against obesity. If you're fat you're fat, so what? What I hate is
hypocrisy. Here this man cannot stop putting food in his mouth and he wants
to tell me to stop taking the medicine that is saving my life and put me in
prison if I don't.

William Bennett personally went to Arizona and convinced the Arizona
legislature that two-thirds of the people's will should be overruled by new
legislation. So, for all the people who have been suffering in Arizona for
the past two years who could have had relief were it not for Bill Bennett,
thank you very much again, Mr. Bennett.

I mean, I've read the Bible, too, and I know that gluttony is punished in
the Bible, the very same Bible that Bill Bennett points to support his
"moral" attack on gays and just about everyone else he doesn't agree with.

*· and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. [Proverbs

*· for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in
rags. [Proverbs 23:21]

*· a companion of gluttons disgraces his father. [Proverbs 28:7]

*· Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. [Titus 1:12]

One Biblical punishment for gluttony is to be stoned to death. As long as
it's not done with rocks, this can work. In some African tribes, the
punishment for any crime is to sit and smoke marijuana endlessly --
marijuana smoke is forced into the small tent so that all the criminal can
do is breathe marijuana for the prescribed period of time. It is the cure
for all crimes.

Where's my, I had my medicine here [takes out golden Art Deco cigarette
case]. The nice thing is, if you're gay --I'm a gay libertarian, I'm one of
those laissez fairies -- you get to carry around delightful things like
this: a cigarette case that Gary Cooper gave Marlene Dietrich for a good,
[clears throat] well, anyway, for a good time. So I'll have it there just in
case I need it, but I know you won't mind. So, gluttony is punishable by
stoning to death, or being cut off from one's people. I believe that that
will be the fate of William Bennett; he will be cut off from his people.
There's no need to punish the drug warriors; they are already punishing

Reason number two: unlike any other issue currently in political play,
public opinion polls are outrageously in favor of medical marijuana and
almost every politician vigorously opposes it. Public opinion polls show
that somewhere between 65 and 80 percent of the population, but never below
65, favor marijuana use under a doctor's supervision. They do that even
though all five living presidents and Nancy Reagan said it was a hoax, even
though C. Everett Koop said it was a hoax. People still believe that if a
doctor says it's okay, it's okay, and if you're sick it's okay to take
medicine, and we make exceptions when people are sick. Compassion has not
been beaten or tricked or propagandized out of the American people. It is
still there and we can appeal to it.

The drug warriors have been so opposed to marijuana, especially medical
marijuana, they have done it on the record, and they have done it recently.
In December, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine report
will come out. This is the one that McCaffrey spent a million dollars of our
tax money on, about the only good federal expenditure last year, if you ask
me. And he took that money and he used it for a study that was going to last
18 months, and he's been hiding behind that ever since. He won't talk about
the medical marijuana issue, he'll say, "We've turned that over to the
doctors. Let them decide." Well, we know pretty much what the doctors are
going to decide. They are not under federal control, like the National
Institute of Health, or NIDA, National Institute of Drug Abuse (groan) and
so they will come up with an honest report.

What report did the Institute of Medicine issue in 1982? In 1982 it
determined that the prohibition of just regular marijuana, not medical
marijuana, was doing more harm than good and it should be legalized at once.
The same august body of independent scientists is not going to reach the
conclusion that under a doctor's care, under a physician's instructions, you
can't take marijuana? It is inconceivable to me for that to happen. So
sometime around the end of the year, the beginning of next year, McCaffrey
will be in a very tight place. Because there's 18 months of videos of him
saying, "I'm not talking about that, I'm turning that over to science and
we're going to let science decide." So science will decide, then what? Stick
around; it's going to be the best show in town.

I invite you to be not just ringside seat holders, but direct participants,
because, boy, this has been fun the last two years. It's not just public
opinion polls, it's been reflected in the polling booth. As you know, in
California 56.4 percent of the population voted for medical marijuana.
That's more than voted for [California Attorney General] Lungren, who's been
trying to suppress it. In the same election more Californians voted for
Proposition 215 than voted for Bill Clinton.

Point number three: Many of you are asking, as libertarians do when
pondering deep moral issues, "What's in it for me?" You see, the Libertarian
Party can embrace a political cause that is in very, very dire need of
friends, and by embracing, there's a marvelous line from Shakespeare, by
embracing the two make more than the one. Or is that Milton Friedman?
Anyway, I think there is a synergistic possibility here between medical
marijuana and the Libertarian Party at this particular juncture of time.
Because when medical marijuana is truly accepted for what it is, we will see
a phenomenon that makes Viagra's phenomenon seem limp. You know, I kind of
think of the Libertarian Party as a kind of political Viagra.

On October 19, 1997, the Society for the Study of Neurosciences published a
report based on scientific evidence from four universities. It began, "New
research shows that substances similar to or derived from marijuana, known
as cannabinoids, could benefit more than 97 million Americans who experience
some form of pain each year." Ninety-seven million Americans! Marijuana has
the unique property of filtering out pain while allowing the sense of touch
and the sense of pleasure to pass through. All other analgesics that work
beyond the level of aspirin work by suppressing feelings overall. Marijuana
filters out only the bad stuff. So imagine those 97 million people turning
around and asking, "Why?" People who have been in intractable pain for
years, for decades, asking, "Why didn't I have this medication before now?
Why was this kept from me?"

And they'll look to the Democrats: guilty. They'll look to the Republicans:
guilty. They'll look to the Libertarians [imitates inhaling from a joint]:
"We told you so!" If the Libertarian party has the gratitude of those 97
million people, and believe me they will, we can elect everybody to every
office everywhere.

And finally, I ask you to support medical marijuana now because it is the
right thing to do. I am tired of people thinking that libertarians don't
have morality, that they don't have values. That's a lot of hogwash.
Libertarians are the only politicians with values. "I won't physically harm
your person or your property without your consent. Therefore, I am a moral
person." And for those who choose to go above and beyond that, who choose to
work for change, to make the government more moral, more accountable, more
"right," who look at what is and say there is great harm being done and we
must stop it because we can stop it and we can stop it now --these are my
heroes, my friends, my compatriots.

You know, on C-SPAN those bars, those great pillars of the Capitol Building
[indicates a replica of the Capitol Building onstage behind him], it almost
looks like I'm standing in front of prison bars. And I look there and I
think, that's where the federal government wants me for the rest of my life
for taking my medicine -- prison. And so I ask you who are the beacons of
liberty in this country, and I ask you in the name of her, that Lady Liberty
there [indicates model of Statue of Liberty]. (I'm gay, but that woman turns
me on. In fact, she is only one of three women I've ever been inside. My
mother told me that joke. She stole it from Woody Allen.) I ask the
Libertarian Party to take this healing herb and use it to heal, [a baby
cries] yes, you too, we'll be doing it for you, that baby crying in the
corner there, we'll be doing it for you, our children, and I ask you to take
this herb, this healing herb, and I ask you to heal the body politic with
it. And I ask you, Lady Liberty, to once again lift your shining lamp above
the golden door. [Takes a joint out of the golden cigarette case and holds
it to his mouth].

"Hey, lady, got a light?"

MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk