June 15, 2000
Medical Marijuana Advocate, Libertarian Author Peter McWilliams Dies
CA: Peter McWilliams, a best selling author who suffered from both
AIDS and cancer, passed away in his home in Los Angeles on June 14th. He
was 50 years old.
McWilliams, who was an out-spoken advocate for the medical use of marijuana, was arrested along with Todd McCormick in 1998 in a high-profile case for cultivating marijuana in a Bel Air, CA, mansion. Both men said the marijuana was intended to supply "buyers' cooperatives" that serve patients in California. At the time of his death, McWilliams was awaiting sentencing on those charges. His story was featured last Friday by John Stossel on the ABC-TV news program 20/20.
He is survived by his mother and brother. No details are yet available regarding the funeral.
Washington State Democrats Add Marijuana Legalization To Platform
The Washington State Democratic Party adopted a resolution at last week's state
convention calling for the complete legalization of marijuana.
"If you really want to get people fired up, it's better to give them freedom to put in the things they care about," said Paul Berendt, state Democratic Party Chairman.
The election platform calls for marijuana to be sold in cafes, bars and state liquor stores for adults over 21 years of age. The sales would be taxed and "spent in the fulfillment of health and human needs." The party also supports an individual's right to possess no more than two marijuana plants and one ounce of marijuana for personal use.
Another platform plank calls for the end of drug testing in the workplace unless the job is safety sensitive.
The marijuana related planks of the platform were introduced by Timothy Crowley of the Washington Hemp Education Network.
"Washington state has long been a progressive environment and we are happy to see the state Democratic Party adopt this into their platform," said Dominic Holden, Director of Washington NORML. "This issue has been on the minds of the general population in our state and there has been a lot of grass roots activity. It's appropriate that the Democratic Party would adopt a stance for decriminalizing marijuana after hearing the voices of the voters in 1998's overwhelming medical marijuana victory."
For more information, please contact Dominic Holden at (206) 522-0846; the Washington State Democratic Party at (206) 583-0664; or Timothy Crowley at (206) 442 9404.
Governor Signs Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law
HI: On June 14th, Governor Benjamin Cayetano (D), signed into law a
bill that protects seriously ill patients who use marijuana medically from local
and state criminal prosecution. Gov. Cayetano said he hopes Hawaii can
become the "health care center of the Pacific" and more states will
follow Hawaii's lead in legalizing medical marijuana.
The Hawaii legislature becomes the first state legislature to legalize marijuana for medical purposes; the other six states that have legalized medical use have done so via voter initiatives.
The law allows for the medical use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, for patients who suffer from such medical conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, a chronic or debilitating disease, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe muscle spasms including multiple sclerosis, or any other medical condition approved by the department of health.
Patients are allowed to possess no more than three mature marijuana plants, four immature plants and one ounce of smokable marijuana per each mature plant. Patients and their primary caregivers will be required to register annually with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety which has some medical marijuana activists concerned.
Donald Topping, president of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, said the law is a big step for Hawaii, but the bill has its shortcomings, such as the register.
"I think registration should be with the Department of Health rather than the Department of Safety," Topping said.
For more information, please contact Donald Topping, President of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii at (808) 637-9822.
Arizona Voter Initiative Would Decriminalize Marijuana, Reform Asset Forfeiture and Strengthen The Medical Marijuana Law
An Arizona voter initiative which would decriminalize minor marijuana offenses,
establish a method for medical marijuana distribution, immunize patients from
prosecution and reform asset forfeiture laws is now being led by attorney and
NORML Legal Committee member Michael Walz, Esq., through his newly formed grass
roots group, Plants Are Medicine.
Walz takes over the initiative after the initial sponsor, the group The People Have Spoken, dropped out, saying they perceived problems with the initiative's language. Walz said The People Have Spoken will hand over to his group more than the 101,762 signatures needed for the initiative to appear on the November ballot.
Under the initiative, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be considered a violation, resulting in no jail time and a fine of no more than $500. Currently, Arizona is one of the only two states in which possession of a small amount of marijuana remains a felony.
The initiative would also protect patients with a physician's recommendation from arrest, establish a method for medical marijuana distribution by the state attorney general, parole non-violent drug possession offenders in prison and shift from law enforcement agencies to drug treatment organizations the proceeds from civil asset forfeitures.
"We took over this initiative because we want to ensure patients receive their medicine and are protected from being incarcerated," Walz said.
For more information, please contact Michael Walz, Esq., at (602) 254-8861.
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