Pubdate: 27(?) Feb 1999
Source: New York Post (NY)
Copyright: 1999, N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
Author: William F. Buckley, Jr


HAVING been once postponed, the hearing of Peter McWilliams of California
is now scheduled for this week. It is arousing high drama, not in the least
discouraged by the defendant McWilliams, who is a skilled writer and

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles intends to recommend that McWilliams spend
the next 10 years in jail for violating federal drug laws, more
specifically, marijuana laws. Peter McWilliams wonders very much out loud
(in regular communications to press and friends) whether he can survive
what he is being put through whether he is Jailed or not.

McWilliams, a 48 year old author of 30 books on how to understand
computers, poetry and human life, contracted AIDS and fell victim to cancer
in 1996. He submitted to such treatment as there is but got relief mostly
from marijuana.

The California proposition (215) that in 1996 authorized doctors to
prescribe marijuana for patients in special circumstances encouraged
McWilliams to endorse the planting of the weed by a partner, and he was
less than discreet about this activity.

He reasoned that if California laws authorize the prescription of
marijuana, patients have to have access to marijuana.

The feds take the position that the California proposition is after all
overridden by federal legislation. They have always scorned 215, for
reasons good and bad. There is no concealing that the heaviest backing for
the proposition was from people who simply don't believe marijuana smoking
should be proscribed and if that's what you think, the best foot in the
door is an OK for the medical use of the drug.

There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of such as McWilliams when they
insist on marijuana's distinctive therapeutic properties for them; on the
other hand, if the hand of God were to relieve McWilliams of his
afflictions, it's probable he'd still wish to smoke marijuana for the same
reason that some people like to smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos has issued a statewide plea in behalf of
McWilliams, and some uncommitted observers are wondering about a federal
practice that permitted marshals to seize McWilliams' computer, keep him in
jail for weeks, and draw up bail so huge ($250,000) as to require the
posting of the houses of his mother and brother as security.

In the heated polemical traffic on the McWilliams case one letter stands
out, from ex NORML director Richard Cowan. "For a moment, let's ignore the
whole medical mari juana question and remember that for six months the
police from multiple jurisdictions watched the home of a political
candidate in hopes of finding something incriminating, based on accusations
in an unsigned letter." The allusion is to Steve Kubby, a medical marijuana
patient who was the Libertarian Party's gubernatorial candidate in last
year's election, and his wife, Michele, arrested for growing pot at their
Squaw Valley home.

The concluding lines of Cowan's statement belong in the golden stanzas of
the library of freedom: "One of the problems that the marijuana reform
movement consistently faces is that everyone wants to talk about what
marijuana does, but no one ever wants to look at what marijuana prohibition
does. Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night.
Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical
research, does not peek in bedroom windows.

Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at
face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people
than marijuana ever could." 
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