The Konformist

August 2000

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William Winter



2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100

Washington DC 20037

World Wide Web:


For release: June 17, 2000


For additional information:

George Getz, Press Secretary

Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222



Bestselling Author Peter McWilliams Was "Murdered by the War on Drugs"

WASHINGTON, DC -- Peter McWilliams, the #1 bestselling author and medical marijuana activist who was found dead in California on June 14, was murdered by the War on Drugs, the Libertarian Party charged today.

"Peter McWilliams would not be dead today if not for the heartless, lethal War on Drugs," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national director. "The federal government killed Peter McWilliams by denying him the medical marijuana he needed to stay alive as surely as if its drug warriors had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

"Peter McWilliams may be dead, but the causes he so bravely fought for -- access to life-saving medicine, an end to the War on Drugs, and greater freedom for all Americans -- will live on."

On Wednesday, McWilliams was found dead in the bathroom of his Los Angeles home. According to sources, he had choked on his vomit.

McWilliams, 50, had suffered from AIDS and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma since 1996, and had used medical marijuana to suppress the nausea that was a common side-effect to the potent medications needed to keep him alive.

The marijuana was completely legal, thanks to California's Proposition 215, which passed in 1996 and legalized the use of marijuana for treatment of illness. However, in late 1997, McWilliams was arrested by federal drug agents and charged with conspiracy to sell marijuana.

After a federal judge ruled that McWilliams could not mention his illnesses at his trial -- or introduce as evidence any of the documented benefits of medical marijuana -- he pled guilty to avoid a 10-year mandatory-minimum prison sentence.

While out on bail awaiting sentencing, McWilliams was prohibited from using medical marijuana -- and being denied access to the drug's anti-nausea properties almost certainly caused his death, said Dasbach.

"First, the federal government arrested McWilliams for doing something that is 100% legal in California," he said. "Then, they put him on trail and wouldn't allow him to introduce the one piece of evidence that could have explained his actions. Finally, they let him out of jail on the condition that he couldn't use the one medicine that kept him alive.

"What the federal government did to Peter McWilliams is nothing less that cold-blooded, premeditated murder. A good, decent, talented man is dead because of the bipartisan public policy disaster known as the War on Drugs."

Ironically, on June 9, McWilliams appeared on the "Give Me A Break!" segment of ABC Television's 20/20, where host John Stossel noted, "[McWilliams] is out of prison on the condition that he not smoke marijuana, but it was the marijuana that kept him from vomiting up his medication. I can understand that the federal drug police don't agree with what some states have decided to do about medical marijuana, but does that give them the right to just end run those laws and lock people up?

"Give me a break! [It] seems this War on Drugs often does more harm than the drugs themselves."

Five days later, McWilliams was dead.

McWilliams, the owner of Prelude Press, was a multi-million-copy-selling author of How to Survive the Loss of a Love, The Personal Computer Book, and DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts (with co-author John-Roger), a #1 New York Times bestseller. He also wrote what is widely considered to be the definitive book against "consensual" crimes, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do.

He joined the Libertarian Party in 1998 following a nationally televised speech at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC.

In that speech, McWilliams said, "Marijuana is the finest anti-nausea medication known to science, and our leaders have lied about this consistently. [Arresting people for] medical marijuana is the most hideous example of government interference in the private lives of individuals. It's an outrage within an outrage within an outrage."

McWilliams' death was also noted by Libertarians in his home state.

"Peter McWilliams was a true hero who fought and ultimately gave his life for what he believed in: The right to heal oneself without government interference," said Mark Hinkle, state chair of the California Libertarian Party.

"His loss opens a gaping hole in the fabric of liberty, but his memory will live on not only in the hearts of grateful Libertarians but also in the lives of the countless patients who will take up the crusade for health freedom."

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