Document:California Press Release 10 August 1998 Bestselling Author Arrest

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Office of the Executive Director
11956 Riverside Dr., #206
Valley Village, CA 91607-3772
For immediate release: August 10, 1998
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 506-0200
Fax: (818) 506-0212


LOS ANGELES -- The arrest of bestselling author Peter McWilliams is another nail in the Constitution's coffin, the Libertarian Party of California charged today.

"This is a wake-up call to all Californians: federal drug fanatics are violating your Constitutional rights -- yet again," declared Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle.

McWilliams, 48, was arrested along with 8 others on July 23 and charged with conspiracy to sell marijuana plants. He has entered a formal plea of not guilty and is being held on $250,000 bail. If convicted, he faces a 10-year jail sentence.

At issue is Proposition 215, the initiative that decriminalized the use of medical marijuana in California. Prop. 215 became state law in November 1996, approved by 56% of California voters.

McWilliams, who was diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in March, 1996 uses marijuana to combat the nausea caused by his life-saving medical treatments. He is an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana.

"The Constitution has gone up in smoke, thanks to the federal government," said Hinkle. "This is a real emergency. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are in critical condition."

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights reserve to the states and the people any powers not specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution.

"Never mind that the War on Drugs is a complete failure. Never mind that the government has no business telling us what we can or cannot put into our bodies. The Constitution does not grant Congress the power to pass drug laws. Under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, that power belongs to the states," explained Hinkle.

That hasn't stopped federal drug warriors from interfering with the implementation of Prop. 215:

  • At a December 30, 1996 press conference, the Clinton administration announced that doctors who prescribe or recommend marijuana may face criminal prosecution under federal law;
  • On April 21, 1997, federal agents confiscated 331 marijuana plants and associated growing equipment in a raid on the Flower Therapy medical marijuana buyer's club in San Francisco;
  • On March 4, 1998, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution stating that "marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medical use";
  • On May 14, 1998, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer complied with the federal government's request to shut down six California medical marijuana dispensaries.

"The federal government has obstructed the implementation of Prop. 215 at every turn and Californians are outraged," said Hinkle.

Can anything be done to stop the federal government from interfering with state law?

"Yes -- the Attorney General of California can invoke the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and instruct California law enforcement to ignore all federal requests, resolutions, and orders when it comes to Prop. 215," noted Hinkle. "The Attorney General can and should stand up to the federal drug foot soldiers -- but I'm not holding my breath."

In fact, California Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Lungren has publicly stated his opposition to Prop. 215. In a February speech, Lungren said, "I took a strong stand against Prop. 215," and went on to explain that "we are trying to implement the measure as narrowly as possible."

Beyond the Constitutional violation, the federal intervention in medical marijuana has had a tragic consequence.

"People are dying," said Hinkle. "Patients who depend on marijuana to ease their suffering are suffering. Whenever the federal government shuts down a medical marijuana buyer's club, they are contributing to the pain of very sick people."

At a July 31 hearing in a Los Angeles federal court, McWilliams's attorneys accused the prison of withholding lifesaving medication from the author. "This gross abuse of federal power must stop," insisted Hinkle.

"The Libertarian Party of California demands the California Attorney General uphold his oath of office to defend the laws and citizens of California against all comers -- including the federal government. We demand Congress and the President recognize the supremacy of state law in this matter. We demand the immediate reopening of all medical marijuana buyer's clubs that have been shut down. And we demand full and complete amnesty for all medical marijuana prisoners -- including Peter McWilliams."

McWilliams is a #1 bestselling author and Libertarian Party member whose books include "How to Survive the Loss of a Love," "The Personal Computer Book," and "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do," a stinging criticism of victimless crimes.