Peter McWilliams Remembrance Day

Peter McWilliams

Though Peter and I disagreed on matters of faith we were both committed to the rights of patient access to medical marijuana.  Take a moment to give thanks and praise to a fallen hero in the war on marijuana.

Enjoy.

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Lady and the Scamp

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I have been asked to reflect on my experiences dealing with a young lady named Julia Rose, who first caught my attention on Facebook a couple years ago. She has a Facebook tribute page dedicated to preserving and distributing the works, and highlighting the memories, of Peter McWilliams.

The Lady

Here is Julia speaking about Peter in a public YouTube video taken at one of the many rallies, conventions or speaking (and singing!) venues she attends.

The Scamp

The many uplifting stories of Peter, as well as his accompanying trials and tribulations, are too broad to relate here. I know I would feel blessed to have my own wikipedia page, let alone a youthful cheerleader like Julia, so long after my ashes are scattered. FWIW, I have chosen to honor my personal memories of Peter by ending all my correspondences with Enjoy. But I digress. Let us move on to my personal account of this energetic young lady.

Getting to Know Her

The first time I spoke with Juila was when she contacted me thru Facebook after seeing my New Year’s tribute to Peter here in this blog. She indicated that she was in contact with Peter’s mother who had inherited a great deal of Peter’s literary memorabilia, some of which she was letting Julia share on the web.

We chatted on Skype a couple times times after that. We communed over the ghost of Peter, his legacy and his works. She probed my calcifying neurons for first person recollections and stories from my calls and correspondence with Peter, the majority of which (sadly) came during the hectic months of his arrest and deprivations under the thumb of America’s fascist drug warriors.

Julia shared with me that Peter’s mom was reluctant to publicize the more risqué or controversial aspects of Peter’s political life. Julia’s main interest in honoring Peter was his poetry and self-help writings.

All that touchy-feely emotional hoodoo is just fine by me (and the 32.4% of me that is gay), but the rest of me negotiated stridently with Julia for a much more prominent emphasis on the politics of the subject that cost Peter his life. She agreed and promised to discuss the issue with Peter’s mom.

She seemed a rather shy and reluctant spokesperson at first, but as the last couple years have shown, her message and music have bounced to one event or the other all over the planet (or at least a tri-country area).

She’s some kind of a hippie-chick rock goddess guru within the medical marijuana community these days now that she’s embraced my early mentoring. I’m too old to even keep up with her frenetic pace on Facebook, but I proudly point her out as a protege and someone I knew before they got famous.

Enjoy.

What Friends Are For

The following is the text of an email I sent to Micaela McGuane (Twitter, Facebook public and personal, blog).  She works for MassCann (Facebook) and has some sway in regard to the speaker selection at this years Boston Freedom Rally.

Julia Rose, who runs Peter’s Page, a tribute site for Peter McWilliams asked me to send Micaela a personal endorsement on her behalf, in her attempt to secure a speaking spot at the Freedom Rally, and I thought I’d share it with the web, since I am fully supportive of the efforts of both these energetic young social activists.  I follow them both through social media and would encourage anyone who supports a change in the status quo of an intolerable, expensive and abusive American marijuana prohibition policy that’s long overdue for change.  It’s a cause I shared a common communion with Peter before he was administratively and physically strangled to death by the implementation thereof.

I’ve been requested to speak up on behalf of Julia Rose, a young lady I initially met on Facebook as a result of our mutual interest in preserving and honoring the memory of Peter McWilliams.  Peter is a man I consider one of the more eminent martyrs in the American drug war; a war that’s morphed into an assault on individual rights and basic human decency.  By now, I’m pretty sure others have emailed you on Julia’s behalf so I’ll assume you have some familiarity with the subject.

Julia noticed my New Year’s tribute to Peter, posted Jan 2010.  She sent me an invite to her newly created Facebook tribute page.  I have followed the fervor and devotion she has thrown into preserving the many causes, as well as the personal sufferings, of Peter McWilliams.    I’ve also had the pleasure of a few personal chat sessions with Julia, so I know she’s a skilled communicator.  I’ve since discovered she is also a singer and songwriter.  She’s written and recorded a tribute song to Peter McWilliams that’s received favorable reviews and airplay as well.

When Julia personally messaged me to remind me she’s got her heart set on speaking in the Boston Freedom Rally, it was an easy call for me to sit down and take the few moments necessary to offer support to a young lady who’s doing great work on behalf of the memory of Peter.  Knowing Julia, you’ll find her easy to work with as well as someone the freedom loving people of Boston would be lucky to meet.

Enjoy.

Good Idea Gone Horribly Awry

First a little background. I first struck up an email friendship with Peter McWilliams after reading his book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business – The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in America” many years ago. It was at a time in Peter’s life when he was very active in the medical marijuana movement, having stumbled onto the relief the drug gave him in combating the nausea brought on by his AID’s medicines. He was eventually jailed and charged for conspiracy to grow medical marijuana. This was clearly a retaliatory measure from the DEA to silence him and his inspirational message on the subject.

As part of his plea deal to avoid continued incarceration, he was forced to stop using cannabis to control his nausea or face a long prison sentence and forfeiture of bond (his mom’s house!)

His compliance with the orders of the court saved his mom’s house, but cost Peter his life. Shortly after sentencing, Peter ended up choking to death on his own vomit from the uncontrolled nausea the marijuana had previously abated. While you may never have heard of Peter, he was high profile enough to have attracted the attention of a John Stossel (on 20/20), who did a segment on his death at the hands of the police state. Peter died in 2000.

Fast forward to 2010. A person I’ve never met, a seemingly gently soul with a desire to honor Peter’s memory, sets up a Facebook tribute page on behalf of the memory of Peter. She’s been amazing in her efforts to honor Peter, going so far as to write a tribute song which has received a fair bit of radio play. She’s also working on a video to honor Peter as well. She saw one of my pro-Peter posts and invited me to join the Facebook group which I promptly did.

At the time, I was totally unaware that there were ulterior motives behind the effort. Perhaps ulterior is too dark a word. Maybe “competing interpretations of Peter’s life” would be more accurate. Peter was many things to many people. That’s not up for debate. The problem with the tribute page on Facebook is that it’s being run, not as a PUBLIC tribute (why Facebook then?), but as a repository of goodwill specifically tailored to make his mother feel better about her son. Therefore, some aspects of Peter’s politics and passion are NOT WELCOME on the page, lest it ‘upset’ the remaining members of his family. I have been chastised in private messages from the group for mentioning aspects of Peter’s work, simply because of family politics.

I can understand the desire to shield the family, but I do not agree with the idea one bit. I’ve mentioned topics that Peter wrote and spoke of loudly and proudly when he was alive. Subjects he took the time to commit to his writings and public speaking venues. Subjects that not only was he was passionate about, but that I am passionate about as well. The latest smack-down from the group aimed at me comes as a result of my mention of Peter’s stance towards legalizing prostitution.

In the bizzaro world of Peter’s Page, such topics are considered taboo because of the aforementioned family sensitivities. I might feel more compassion for their position if Peter himself hadn’t been so forthright on these very same issues when he was alive. Peter never shied away from confrontation about issues he felt strongly about and neither do I.

Why the family should feel shamed by discussions surrounding the subjects so near and dear to Peter is puzzling. I can’t help but wonder how far Peter’s Page wants to take this newly found protectionist attitude? For chrissakes folks, we’re talking about a fellow who confronted not only the medical/prison industrial complex, but also the issue of his own homosexuality in a society openly hostile towards same.

His family should feel no shame at all. They should be angry about the way he was treated by authorities and proud that he stood up for what he believed in. The work that Peter did in advancing the cause of medical marijuana has advanced greatly since his death. That said, even the Obama administration, despite public statements to the contrary, is still raiding medical cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized it’s use in that regard. The war is far from over. I will not let the memory of a fallen comrade, nor the advancement of the goals he believed in, be glossed over for the sole purpose of defending the delicate sensibilities of family members he himself apparently discounted when he was still alive.

Enjoy.

New Years Tribute to Peter McWilliams

It was reading Peter’s book, Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society, that spurred my interest in him.  I had many pleasant email exchanges with Peter before he was dogged-to-death by reactionary US drug policies.  When my kids ask me, “What did you do in the war daddy?” my support of Peter is always a source of pride for me.  By the looks of things these days, we’re winning Peter’s war (Yo Colorado, Whazzup’ California!!), but there are still many battles to go.

Peter McWilliams ultimately died of AIDS, choking on his own vomit because the US government denied his use of marijuana to treat the nausea induced by the plethora of legal medications necessary to treat his health.

Richard Cowan and many critics of the U. S. drug policies have described his death as murder by the U. S. government, insofar as they denied him the use of the medical marijuana which might have prevented his death. At least one account suggests that he choked on his own vomit because of the nausea.

Shortly after his death:

At the National Libertarian Party convention — where presidential candidate Harry Browne came out firmly for decriminalization of marijuana — Peter McWilliams became the posthumous winner of their Champion of Liberty Award. Peter will be missed. He was the victim of a political assassination, but his inspiring legacy continues to live on.

Here is Peter speaking at the Libertarian Party convention in 1998:

As always:

Enjoy.