-Caveat Lector-   <A HREF="http://www.ctrl.org/">
</A> -Cui Bono?-

Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.petertrial.com/letters.htm">letters</A>

Please help keep me
out of federal prison
by writing a letter to the judge

My name is Peter McWilliams. I am a cancer survivor living with AIDS. I was
arrested in July 1998 on federal medical marijuana charges, even though I
live in California, a state that approved medical marijuana use in 1996.

In November 1999, the federal prosecutors successfully obtained an order
prohibiting me from mentioning to the jury that I have AIDS, that marijuana
is medicine, that the federal government supplies eight patients with medical
marijuana each month, or that California has a law permitting the very act
that I was accused of violating.

As I never denied my medical marijuana cultivation, that left me with no
defense whatsoever. To avoid an almost certain guilty verdict and a ten-year
mandatory-minimum sentence, I pled guilty to a lesser charge. (The whole
story is at www.petertrial.com) My sentencing for this charge will be on
March 27, 2000. The deadline for turning in letters of support is February
20, 2000.

Would you please take the time to send a letter, or a fax, or even an e-mail,
to the judge on my behalf? It would make all the difference in my world.

The letter need not be long or eloquent. One sentence is sufficient.

The judge can sentence me to 0 to 5 years. The federal sentencing guidelines
place my recommended (but not mandatory) sentence in the 5-year range. It is
probably unavoidable that I get a sentenced to some time -- perhaps the full
five years.

What I am asking the judge -- and what I am asking you to ask the judge -- is
that I be able to serve my sentence under "home detention," also known as
"electronic monitoring." (An electronic transmitter would be permanently
fastened to my ankle and my whereabouts would be monitored 24 hours a day. I
would not be able to leave my home except for medical or court appointments.
As I live in Los Angeles, this will allow me to write my books, including Gali
leo LA.)

In writing the Judge King, please observe these commonsense guidelines:

1. Please be respectful. The judge owes me, or you, nothing. You are asking
for a favor. When Judge King was asked to allow me to use medical marijuana
while out on bail, he said to the attorneys on both sides, in a voice
trembling with compassion, "I am struggling mightily with this. Please,
struggle with me." Alas, there was nothing in federal law that permitted him
to allow me to break federal law, even to save my life, but I believed the
sincerity of his struggle. Personally, I don't want judges rewriting law as
they see fit. Judge King is a good judge upholding a bad law. My sentence,
however, is at his discretion. I believe he will be fair, that he will read
the letter you send, and he will be moved by your heartfelt request. I
believe we owe courtesy to the King.

2. Please focus on my health (www.petertrial.com/undetectable.htm) and my
contributions to society (through my books www.mcwilliams.com/books) as
reasons why I should receive home detention or electronic monitoring (the
term can be used interchangeably). The legal arguments will be made by my

3. If you know me, please say so, and state any positive character traits you
may have noticed wafting by from time to time. (This letter is not written
under oath, so you will not be arrested for perjury.)

4. If you have read any of my books, please say so. If they helped you,
please say how. (Exception: Please do not mention "Ain't Nobody's Business if
You Do." See 5.)

5. Please do not give your opinion of the War on Drugs (unless you're in
favor of it), how the government treated me in this case (unless you
approve), your views on medical marijuana (unless you're against it), or
anything else critical of the status quo. Save those remarks, however
well-reasoned and accurate, for letters-to-the-editor. Such comments may be
counterproductive in a letter to a federal judge.

6. If you can, please keep the letter to one page, and no longer than two.

Actual letters (those things made popular in the last millennium, printed on
paper, put into envelopes, and sent through the Post Office) are best. Typed
is better, but handwritten is fine. Please use the most impressive letterhead
to which you have legitimate access. (Your business stationery is better than
your personal stationery, for example.) If you don't have stationery, you
can  create a letterhead on any word processor in about two minutes.

Please address the letters to:

"The Honorable George H. King"

and begin the letter:

"Dear Judge King,"

Please mail the letters TO ME at:

Peter McWilliams
8165 Mannix Drive
Los Angeles, California 90046

If you know you're probably not going to get around to writing a letter (and
I know just how you feel -- I don't know where to find an envelope any more,
much less a stamp -- please send a fax (signed, on letterhead, if possible,
but if not, that's fine) to:


If you think you might not get around to sending a fax, please send an
e-mail. Please write at the bottom of the e-mail "You have my permission to
reformat this letter, print it, and sign my name at the bottom." Your name
will be signed for you, next to which will be the initials of the person
signing it. Please include your complete mailing address.

Please click here to compose and send your e-mail now.

The e-mail address is peter@mcwilliams,com

Finally, please circulate this request as widely as you can -- post it on
bulletin boards, send it to receptive people on your e-mail list, send it out
in newsletters. Kindly use your creativity, but, please, no spamming.

If you cannot post the entire message of this missive, the online address of
this request is www.petertrial.com/letters.htm.

Thank you from the bottom of my weary but very grateful heart.


Peter McWilliams
Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/bio.htm">All About Me</A>
Peter McWilliams

PETER McWILLIAMS has been writing about his passions since 1967. In that
year, he became passionate about what most seventeen-year-olds are passionate
about—love—and wrote Come Love With Me & Be My Life. This began a series of
poetry books which have sold nearly four million copies.

Along with love, of course, comes loss, so Peter became passionate about
emotional survival. In 1971 he wrote Surviving the Loss of a Love, which was
expanded in 1976 and again in 1991 (with co-authors Melba Colgrove, Ph.D.,
and Harold Bloomfield, M.D.) into  How to Survive the Loss of a Love. It has
sold more than two million copies.

He also became interested in meditation, and a book he wrote on meditation
was a New York Times bestseller, knocking the impregnable Joy of Sex off the
#1 spot. As one newspaper headline proclaimed, MEDITATION MORE POPULAR THAN

His passion for computers (or more accurately, for what computers could do)
led to The Personal Computer Book, which Time proclaimed "a beacon of
simplicity, sanity and humor," and the Wall Street Journal  called "genuinely
funny." (Now, really, how many people has the Wall Street Journal called
"genuinely funny"?)

His passion for personal growth continues in the ongoing LIFE 101 Series.
Thus far, the books in this series include

LIFE 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life In School—But Didn't (a
 New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback);

DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts (a #1 New York Times hardcover bestseller);

LOVE 101: To Love Oneself Is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance.

His passion for visual beauty led him to publish, in 1992, his first book of
photography, PORTRAITS, a twenty-two-year anthology of his photographic work.

Personal freedom, individual expression, and the right to live one's own
life, as long as one does not harm the person or property of another, have
long been his passions. He wrote about them in the 1993 book (revised in
1996)  Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes
in Our Free Country.

In 1994, after successfully being treated for depression, he wrote with
Harold Bloomfield, M.D.,  How to Heal Depression. This was followed by their
Hypericum (St. John's Wort) and Depression, all about treating depression
with a natural herb.

All of the above-mentioned books were self-published and are still in print.

Peter McWilliams has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King (both
radio and television), Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, and, a long time ago,
the Regis Philbin Show (before Regis met Kathie Lee—probably before Kathie
Lee was born).
Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.petertrial.com/Globe.htm">Globe</A>

Boston Globe

Front Page

October 23, 1999


Lynda Gorov

By now, vomiting is second nature to Peter McWilliams. He has no shame
about it. Sometimes he even sees the humor in it.

McWilliams, 50, still laughs about the time he leaned over a trash can at a
political convention, lost his lunch in front of strangers, then casually
wiped his mouth with a cocktail napkin before continuing the conversation.
The other day, at his home high in the Hollywood Hills, he simply shrugged
when he returned from retching in the bathroom.

''You get used to vomiting,'' he said. ''You get used to anything, I
suppose. But it's insane that anyone has to go through this.''

McWilliams, who has AIDS and cancer that is in remission, said he and his
doctor know the solution to his suffering: medical marijuana. He said he
knows from experience that it helps him keep down the powerful drugs he
needs to survive and the food he needs to keep up his strength. Without it,
the book publisher and best-selling author fears he will die.

But for more than a year, McWilliams has been barred from smoking marijuana
while he awaits trial on a variety of marijuana-related charges. He says he
was growing it for his own consumption, and had not used it for more than
20 years until he became ill. Federal prosecutors charge that he was
conspiring to sell it along with his codefendants, all of them users of
medical marijuana.

Either way, McWilliams's situation underscores the ongoing conflict between
the state and federal governments over the use of marijuana by patients
with AIDS, cancer, or chronic pain - despite some medical studies and much
anecdotal evidence showing its palliative benefits.

California voters became the first to approve medical marijuana for
patients with a doctor's approval in November 1996 - the same year
McWilliams discovered a lump in his neck and learned he had non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma and AIDS. Washington followed last fall, and several states are
considering similar measures. But the federal government maintains that the
sale or distribution of marijuana remains illegal under all circumstances.

''The laws against medical marijuana are crazy in the first place,'' said
state Senator John Vasconcellos, a Democrat who has led the charge to
legalize medical marijuana and keep it legal in California. ''But to say
that people who are dying of cancer and AIDS can't relieve their pain is
awful. By denying Peter McWilliams the right to smoke marijuana while he's
out on [$250,000] bail, they're denying him life.''

McWilliams's trial is still a month away. For now, he is mostly confined to
his home, relying on friends to bring him the milk he gulps by the glassful
and the honey-roasted peanuts he eats by the fistful because they do not
make him nauseated.

Unable to work, McWilliams finds his Prelude Press bordering on bankruptcy.
Unable to walk even short distances, he uses a wheelchair for court
appearances. The other day, his face dripping sweat, he nodded off in the
hallway while inside the courtroom where his hearing was being postponed.

Of the first time he smoked marijuana after chemotherapy, McWilliams said,
''I had this epiphany: 'Oh my God, this stuff really works.' Then I got
mad, furious, thinking about all the millions of cancer patients who this
could be helping.''

Repeatedly turned down by a federal judge who says he cannot authorize
someone to break the law, McWilliams now hopes a federal appellate court,
which recently ruled that seriously ill people should be allowed to use
medical marijuana, will give him access to the only drug that he has found
to keep his nausea under control. Other defendants in federal marijuana
cases are expected to mount similar appeals based on the US 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals decision.

To federal prosecutors, however, McWilliams's case has nothing to do with
medical marijuana and everything to do with a drug ring, regardless of why
the defendants were growing the plants or who was using them. McWilliams is
accused of masterminding the plot, in part because of the $120,000 that
McWilliams says he paid codefendant Todd McCormick, a medical marijuana
patient and researcher, to write two books on the subject. If convicted,
they could face life in prison.

''We all admit to what we've done,'' said McWilliams, who previously bought
marijuana on the black market or at the cannabis clubs that had sprung up
around California after the passage of the law known as Proposition 215.

''We all grew marijuana; we all used marijuana,'' he continued. ''The 300
plants I had were my own personal stash ... Todd was studying which strains
work best for which types of illnesses. I mean all his plants were labeled.''

But federal prosecutors say that is no defense. In fact, they do not want
the defendants to be able to introduce a medical-necessity defense, discuss
the benefits of marijuana, or even mention Proposition 215 to jurors. Both
sides are scheduled to argue their positions next week before US District
Court Judge George King.

''The way that I characterize this case is that it involves a conspiracy to
conduct a commercial marijuana-growing operation involving more than 6,000
plants at four separate growing sites,'' said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for
the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, which is handling the case. ''It
doesn't matter where they were going to sell it. It doesn't matter if they
say, `I'm doing this to save my life.' It's illegal to manufacture or
cultivate marijuana under federal law.''

If prosecutors succeed in keeping those issues out of court, McWilliams's
attorney, Thomas Bollanco, said the defendants may as well head straight to
prison. Without medical necessity, they have no case.

''We're going to be left unable to answer to the charges because we can
only answer with what's true, and what's true is that these guys were
motivated by their medical needs and Prop 215,'' said Bollanco, who
recently lost a federal jury trial in Sacramento in which the judge refused
to allow a medical necessity defense.

Yet even on a state level, the answer to the medical marijuana debate
remains murky. Lacking clear-cut guidelines, law enforcement officials in
some jurisdictions actively pursue arrests, others tend to look the other
way. Last year, a task force including advocates and opponents worked to
craft a compromise. This year, the resulting bill was tabled. Faced with
federal opposition, California Governor Gray Davis has resisted giving it
his approval.

But California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, unlike his predecessor,
appears to favor the voters' decision to allow the use of medical
marijuana, although he has called Prop 215 poorly written and open to too
much interpretation. This month, he urged US Attorney General Janet Reno to
let the appellate court ruling stand.

Possibly turned off by the number of marijuana plants involved - or by
McWilliams' admitted eccentricities - few have rallied around his case and
some have turned against him. He insisted he is hurt but not angry or
surprised by his isolation. After his arrest, McWilliams spent almost a
month in jail until he could raise the money to post bail.

''I am the representative of all the sick people and what they are doing to
me is only the worst case right now, but there will be others,'' McWilliams
said. ''I am living on borrowed time anyway. I owe this part of my life to
luck and modern medical science. But I can't imagine what the rest of it
will be like if they won't let me use medical marijuana.''
Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.petertrial.com/kafka.htm">In the most
Kafkaesque turn of events to date</A>
In the most Kafkaesque turn of events to date, the trial judge has granted
the government's motion and ruled:

For complete ruling (4 pages), please click here.

(The investigative new drug program is the one in which the federal
government sends marijuana to 8 patients each month for medical purposes and
has been since 1972.)

This means my testimony will go something like this:

PROSECUTOR: "Mr. McWilliams, did you grow marijuana?"
ME: "Yes."
PROSECUTOR: "How much marijuana?"
ME: "About 300 plants."
PROSECUTOR: "Thank you."

End of testimony. The only question the jury will have to decide is whether I
am responsible for Todd McCormick's 4000 plants because I gave him a book
advance for How to Grow Medical Marijuana or the 1,600 plants Scott Hass alleg
edly grew with his severance package money from my publishing company (he was
the president of Prelude Press, Inc.).

The difference is the difference between a 5-year mandatory minimum (under
1,000 plants) or a 10-year mandatory minimum (over 1,000 plants).

At this point, due to my AIDS, I basically don't have an immune system, and
any stay in the germ-rich environment of a federal prison would be a death
sentence. I would no doubt be placed on the "hospital floor" where the
tuberculosis and other highly contagious patients are "quarantined" from
everybody except the prisoners on the hospital floor.

There is one possible alternatives to prison sentences:

Ask the judge after the guilty verdict to extend my bail during the appeal
process. (Usually in drug cases, the convicted are taken into custody
immediately after sentencing. Unlike rapists, kidnappers, and robbers, we pot
smokers pose a grave danger to the community.)

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy
and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the
crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously
ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the
assistance of counsel for his defense.

It doesn't say a thing about the right to put on a defense.

Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.petertrial.com/NYTIMES-PLEA.htm">NYTIMES-PLEA<
One factual correction: we pled to 4,300 plants, not 6,000.




New York Times

November 21, 1999

Case Involving Medical Use Of Marijuana Results in Plea

Two advocates of the medicinal use of marijuana pleaded guilty today to
growing more than 6,000 plants and selling the drug, saying their only hope
was to ask for a judge's mercy after they were precluded from raising
medical issues in their defense.

The two men, Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick, intended to tell jurors
about the state law passed by voters in 1996 allowing marijuana use for
medical purposes, its purported benefits and their own health. Mr.
McWilliams has AIDS, and Mr. McCormick has fused vertebrae from childhood
cancer treatments.

But Judge George H. King of Federal District Court here barred them from
raising those issues in the courtroom after prosecutors contended that doing
so would confuse and mislead jurors.

At the heart of the dispute was whether a ''medical necessity defense''
saying they broke the law because their health required it could be used
when Congress had classified the drug in question as having no legitimate

''Given the judge's logic, that the medical necessity defense does not
exist, someone in Peter's situation has only two remedies to prevent him
from going to jail,'' said Tom Ballanco, a lawyer for Mr. McWilliams.

''One is prosecutorial discretion, and the other is compassion on the part
of the judge,'' Mr. Ballanco said. ''Here, obviously, the prosecutors chose
to prosecute, so it's all up to the judge to demonstrate there is some
compassion in the federal law. I am hoping that he will.''

Both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to manufacture and distribute
marijuana. In doing so, they capitulated to a set of facts that they
continued to dispute outside the courtroom. Based on letters Mr. McCormick
wrote to Mr. McWilliams, prosecutors maintained the men were planning to
sell marijuana to cannabis clubs where ill people go to use the drug.

But the defendants maintained they were growing the plants for personal use
and for a book Mr. McCormick was writing about medical marijuana. Mr.
McWilliams, a book publisher, acknowledged growing 300 of his own plants but
insisted the roughly $100,000 he gave Mr. McCormick was a book advance, not
financing for the growing operation.

The case also highlighted a conflict in federal law. Despite Congress's
stance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowed a
cannabis club in Oakland to resume providing marijuana to patients in
September, saying medical necessity could be used as a defense against a
court injunction obtained by the Clinton administration.

Mr. McWilliams, who faces up to five years in prison under his plea, waived
his right to appeal on that issue. But Mr. McCormick will appeal Judge
King's ruling on the medical necessity defense. If he loses, he will face
five years in prison.

''I felt this was the smartest way to protect my health and my well-being,''
Mr. McCormick told reporters outside court afterward.
Click Here: <A HREF="http://www.petertrial.com/plea.htm">plea</A>
Faced with Judge's ruling,
I pled guilty to a lesser charge so as not to spend
a mandatory ten years in federal prison

On November 19, 1999, I pled guilty to a lesser charge -- conspiracy to
commit an offense against the United States government, namely the
manufacturer and distribution of marijuana -- or something along those lines.
This carries a sentence of 0 to 5 years, and the judge can, if he sentences
me to time, order me to serve it under "home detention" with "electronic
monitoring." This means I wear an electronic device around my ankle and my
whereabouts is tracked at all times. I am not to leave my house except for
medical or court appointments.

I "pled out" because, without a medical marijuana defense, I have no defense
at all. I would have been found guilty, and I would have been given mandatory
ten-year sentence with no possibility of parole. Ten-year sentences, by law,
cannot be served with electronic monitoring.

I would have gone to prison for at least one year and three months, the
amount of time it takes to make the first round of an appeal, and would only
have been released if the appeal were successful. Considering my rapidly
deteriorating medical condition and the level of contagion in federal
prisons, especially tuberculosis, I probably would have died a miserable
death within a year.

The Drug War doesn't need another martyr -- it has too many already.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, I made the choice that gave me the
only chance of staying out of prison, continuing my life, and doing what I do
best -- writing and other creative expressions designed to make this world a
more enjoyable place to live. (Contrary to romantic thought, prison is the
worst place in which to write. The month I spent in custody I was in
"survival mode" the whole time, and survival mode is the death of
creativity.) I'm sorry if I've let anyone down by not going through with the

I will be sentenced on March 27, 2000.

Just now I need money to pay off some bills and to give me some breathing
space so I can gather all the information necessary to present to the judge
so that he might pass a compassionate sentence. If you have set aside any
money to help me at trial or with an appeal, please break the piggy bank now
and click here.

Soon, I'll be asking for letters to be written to the judge. That request
should be up by February 1, 2000, so please check back then, or put yourself
on my mailing list by clicking here.

I want to thank everyone for their kindness, encouragement, and support
during this horrific time.

I love you all.


Aloha, He'Ping,
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
All My Relations.
Omnia Bona Bonis,
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
Roads End

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