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His Enemy Was Ignorance: how Peter McWilliams died

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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-11 08:03 PM
Original message
His Enemy Was Ignorance: how Peter McWilliams died
Edited on Mon Nov-14-11 08:06 PM by RainDog
Peter McWilliams was a libertarian and is well known among libertarians and those who are not libertarians but who, on the political spectrum, are considered very liberal because that view coincides with a belief in personal responsibility and tamping down the nanny state of social conservatism. McWilliams wrote a book, "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do," in 1993 which discussed the uselessness of laws to deal with victimless crimes, such as prohibition of cannabis.

In 1996, Peter developed AIDS and lymphoma. Medical marijuana saved his life. This is what he had to say about the situation in 2000, in an address to a libertarian convention (you can find a link to the full speech via the link below. btw, Clinton was president when McWilliams was going through his first bout of chemo.)

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."

And here I think it is important to note that the IMMEDIATE effect of cannabis on nausea is due to the way in which the cannabis is used. It is SMOKED. By smoking, the cannabis does not have to go through the liver via the stomach and make its way to the brain to turn off the nausea, a process that can take up to two hours. When cannabis is smoked, it goes from the lungs to the heart to the brain within half a minute. Actually, the time is more like 2-15 seconds.

Recently, the Drug Czar specifically noted that the federal govt. finds no medical use for "smoked marijuana." Well, that must be because the federal govt. doesn't want to find it because the evidence has been available for decades. However, it is important to note that the Obama administration is lying about smoked cannabis and is using that lie as a foundation for the continuation of prohibition. They are lying. Let's be clear. They are lying about science.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that prohibition is the creationism of social conservatism.

In the face of absolute proof regarding a scientific issue, prohibitionists are as idiotic as creationists - but are more harmful to society. It has been more than a decade since the federal govt has had to answer for their crimes against the American people regarding prohibition. It seems like we need a Scopes trial for the prohibitionists...a hearing on the science.

One of the people that the anti-science prohibitionists killed was Peter McWilliams. Here is how they killed him. Actually, Bill Clinton was responsible for his death, when you get right down to it.

On June 14, Natalie Fisher went to Peter McWilliams' home, where she worked as housekeeper to the wheelchair-bound victim of AIDS and cancer. In the bathroom on the second floor, she found his life-less body. He had choked to death on his own vomit... (Peter) was diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in early 1996...In 1996, California voters enacted a law legalizing the use of marijuana by people, like Peter, who needed it for medical reasons...Like many people stricken with AIDS or cancer, he had great difficulty keeping down the drugs that controlled or mitigated those afflictions. He began to smoke marijuana to control the drug-induced nausea. It saved his life: by early 1998, both his cancer and his AIDS were under control.

After the Clinton administration announced it would ignore the state law and continue to prosecute marijuana users who needed the drug to stay alive, it remained very difficult for others who needed medical marijuana to get the drug. So Peter helped finance the efforts of Todd McCormick to cultivate marijuana for distribution to those who needed it for medical reasons....His articulate advocacy of legalizing medical marijuana brought him to the attention of federal authorities, who got wind of Todd McCormick's attempt to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes and of Peter's involvement with it. And it came to pass that in the early morning of December 17, 1997, federal agents invaded his home and business, and confiscated a wide array of his property ( including his computers, one of whose hard disks contained the book he was writing ). In July 1998 they arrested him on charges of conspiring to grow marijuana.

His mother and brother put up their homes as bond and he was released from jail to await his trial. One of the conditions of his bail was that he smoke no marijuana. Unwilling to risk the homes of his mother and brother, he obeyed the order. His viral load, which had fallen to undetectable levels, now soared to dangerous levels:

"Unable to keep down the life-saving prescription medications, by November 1998, four months after my arrest, my viral load soared to more than 256,000. In 1996 when my viral load was only 12,500, I had already developed an AIDS-related cancer .... Even so, the government would not yield. It continued to urine test me. If marijuana were found in my system, my mother and brother would lose their homes and I would be returned to prison" said Peter.

This is important to note: Because the federal govt, specifically the federal govt under the leadership of the Clinton administration, refused to honor the will of California voters regarding medical marijuana, Peter McWilliams' health deteriorated to the point that he became wheelchair bound.

Before, when he was able to use medical marijuana, his health improved.

After, when the federal govt brought the full force of their power down on someone who was acting legally, and, imo, morally, that person suffocated on his own vomit. Vomit that would not have been a part of this person's life without the interference of the prohibitionists in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Oh, and Todd McCormick, the person who was arrested for growing marijuana? He was also a cancer patient.

And, just to be clear - Democrats have been WORSE for people who deal with illness and use medical marijuana for their conditions than Republicans at the federal level. Under the Clinton administration, the DEA engaged in more raids than his Republican predecessor. The same holds true with Obama.

You have to wonder if they want to look tough - but, you know, kicking cancer patients when they're down is more like the mind of a sociopath, not someone who cares about the well being of society. Nevertheless, the helmet hair heads in D.C. and other political offices can't seem to shake the idea that an attack on marijuana is an attack on the 60s counter culture. Hey, guess what? The 60s are over. So is Nixon and his hatred for those Jews who were smoking pot. The social conservatives cannot even win on legislation to oppress women in Mississippi, fercryinoutloud. The 60s won - deal with it. Climb to the roof of your helmet-haired head, get into your mental helicopters and remove yourselves from your outdated positions.

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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-11 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
1. Here's a wiki about the book, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do

a link at the bottom goes to an abridged version of the book, available for free.
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MedleyMisty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-11 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. I am so fucking tired
of being forced to live in a society with the blood of billions on its hands. And for what? Power. Money. Selfishness. Fear.

As they say in Oakland: "The system has got to die, hella hella occupy!"
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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-11 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I want democrats to wake up. they are far behind the American people on this issue
In order from them to come to terms with reality, it's important for people to note how their political expediency harms others.

We could stop the drug war tomorrow, in large part, by simply rescheduling cannabis. Congress doesn't need to act to overturn the bad law they took less than an hour to consider (yeah, the whole thing is a pitiful miscarriage of justice.)

They should, but Congress seems a bit distracted lately with trying and failing to make laws that allow the religious right to set up camp inside the female body politic.

I don't know any female that wants to have a newt crawling up know.

So, while they're all distracted and losing more and more support, why not deal them a death blow and bring liberals and libertarians to the side of democrats by ending the war on drugs, at least for cannabis?

As I've noted before, Clinton got fewer votes than cannabis legalization - even before the repressive tactics he pulled in California. Obama should buy a clue from this history.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. I feel this so much when I read these accounts. I want to go and live in Europe where this
is not an actuality...why don't people in this country wake up to the fact that we are NOT a land of opportunity...we are a land of OLIGARCHY...and if you are not in that system, you don't count.

Sad, sad, sad...

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Tsiyu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-11 10:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. Cannabis does not kill

as this story reminds us, laws AGAINST cannabis kill.

The laws, not the plant, are deadly.

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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:01 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. I was shocked when I saw he had died
I'm no libertarian and I don't keep up with ppl who i.d. as the same, mostly. and his book was written back in the 90s while Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness was published in 2003.

Schlosser estimated 10% of the U.S. economy derives from cannabis prohibition, pornography and exploitation of migrant labor. He says the discrepancy in what this nation says and what it does indicates a great deal of denial - the desire to project a certain image when the reality does not conform to that image.

He reveals the fascinating workings of the shadow economy by focusing on marijuana, one of the nation's largest cash crops; pornography, whose greatest beneficiaries include Fortune 100 companies; and illegal migrant workers, whose lot often resembles that of medieval serfs. All three industries show how the black market has burgeoned over the past three decades, as America's reckless faith in the free market has combined with a deep-seated puritanism to create situations both preposterous and tragic.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
6. knr nt
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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 04:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. thanks for the kick!
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. You're welcome! n/t
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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. I was so shocked to learn about his death in this way
because it's like... you couldn't write a fictional story that would represent the abuse of power this situation entails and think people would believe the govt could be so intransigent - esp. in the face of the REALITY that his man's LIFE WAS SAVED by smoking cannabis, but b/c he spoke up about it, he was targeted.

and b/c he was targeted, they sentenced him to death by not allowing him to consume the ONE medicine that made it possible for him to use the chemo and anti-viral meds that were saving his life.

people talk about how big pharma is a problem, etc. but in this case, it's clear that the govt itself is the problem. they want to be able to play god with people's lives and think they are justified in doing so. clearly, they are not.

we do cost/benefit analyses all the time to determine whether we would be better off doing x or y. It's obvious from the 1000s of studies, the 1000s of reports from people, that cannabis is not as dangerous as the prohibition of cannabis.
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