IDES OF MARCH UPDATE 1998
FROM PETER McWILLIAMS
Many people have written asking, "What's going on?"
Thank you. Here, then,
is my March 15, 1998 Report to the Nation:
The DEA finally returned my computer, with one hard drive scrambled. It was
either intentionally scrambled, or it caught a virus while in DEA custody.
(And here we want to bomb Sadaam for germ warfare.) Until and unless I get
further information, I am assuming the virus was an unintended gift of the
DEA, some bureaucratic snafu, yet another federal screw-up. I know I'm
leaning backwards on this, but I find it had to believe the DEA would be
dumb enough intentionally attempt to destroy my book after the ACLU and
William F. Buckley, Jr. lodged protests. And my mother wasn't very happy
about it, either.
Besides, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I think bureaucracies are the
problem, not an organized covert plan to do me in. I think the government
starts a program--some very well-intended program--and then the program
becomes a department, then the department becomes a bureaucracy, then the
bureaucracy takes over. Bureaucracies are a lifeform unto themselves, a very
low level of lifeform, but a lifeform nonetheless--like a termite colony.
Bureaucracies have a basic mission over and above whatever mission the
original lawmakers or voters gave them: to survive. That's rule number one.
No federal bureaucracy has ever, EVER, determined "Our job is done; we
recommend immediate dismantling. It's been a pleasure serving the people of
America. We are individually now ready for new assignments." No. The War
Department just becomes the Department of Defense (soon to probably be
called the Department of Peace and Prosperity). The Treasury Department
started in 1927 the Bureau of Prohibition (long after alcohol Prohibition,
then seven years old, had been proven a failure) which in 1930 became the
Bureau of Narcotics, which became the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs in 1968 which begat the Drug Enforcement Administration (and lots of
others) in 1973.
What we have in the DEA is a 75-year-old federal bureaucracy with absolutely
no checks, no balances, no goals, so no failures. It is bloated and
inefficient and I marvel that it can find it way to the bathroom.
(Considering the messes it leaves behind, it obviously sometimes can't.)The
duller DEA employees think it's "A great job..." and then go on about the
easy work ("Mostly just sitting around"), good hours ("You have to get up
real early sometimes, but then you have the whole day free"), the good pay
("Do you know how much more I'm making now than when I was a security
guard?"), and the unbelievable job security ("Nobody every gets fired, man,
nobody"). The smarter ones must feel unbearably repressed by the grinding
inefficiency and lack of accountability for which bureaucracies, especially
federal ones, are famous. Going to a federal prison does not frighten me;
working for a federal bureaucracy does. In this environment where almost no
one is fired so almost no one has to work, all sorts of screwy things
happen. My computer getting a virus was merely one of them.
If you think I'm letting the DEA off lightly on this, I'm not. I find it
reprehensible that, after checking my medical records to see if I really did
have cancer and AIDS (which they did last August ), they didn't simply
from that point on leave me alone. I am clearly not a drug dealer. If I
were, I would have done things differently and I'd be rich and
well-protected now, for if I were a drug dealer, I would be generous in my
payoffs. Recently, one FBI agent in one year was able to get 44 members of
the Cleveland, Ohio, law enforcement community to accept a $3,700 bribe to
provide "protection" for drug deals. Now, $3,700 doesn't seem like a lot to
me, considering how much one could make with that kind of protection. Of
course, I'm not a drug dealer, so I don't know what the going rate for law
enforcement is. No reason to pay more than you have to, right? Anyway, if I
were a drug dealer, all the necessary parties would have been paid off
ongoingly and long ago and I would live in a mansion--but I wasn't so I
didn't so I don't, and that's reason number 237 why I am in trouble with the
It is well known that the vast majority of DEA convictions are "mules" or
very low-level players in the drug underground. The big players aren't
getting caught because they're paying the right people for protection--be it
the authorities, a team of lawyers, or both. But the DEA has to arrest and
convict someone every so often so we can read pathetic headlines, like the
recent: "After 3-Year Intensive Investigation, DEA Nabs 14 in Drug Ring."
Fourteen arrests after three years of investigation? That's an indication of
the inefficiency of the DEA, the large number of DEA "untouchables" in the
drug underworld, or both. So I understand the DEA's needs to get arrests and
convictions from low-level (or no-level) people, of which I am the lowest.
(If you've never profited a penny on drugs, that's pretty low.)
It's a despicable system, but how much lower could it go than for the DEA to
look among hospital wards to meet its quotas? The DEA has been poking about
in my life for almost nine months now. Don't they have something better to
do than to pick on sick people? The cost of this investigation must be in
the millions of dollars by now. Why don't they just slap a civil lawsuit on
me the way the federal government is doing on northern California buyers
clubs? Why this selective persecution? And why is the Los Angeles Cannabis
Cultivator Club (or whatever Scott Imler is currently calling it) growing
and selling marijuana without so much as a murmur from the federal
government? I'm certainly not saying the feeds should bust that or any other
club. I am saying they should leave all medical marijuana patients alone,
I didn't mean to do a rant there, but whether the DEA intended it or not, it
took me six weeks and $2,000 in expert disk-drive doctoring to get the
DEA-impounded computer unscrambled. In all, I was without my work for ten
weeks. I've had it "whole" again for about a week now. Some of what's there
is still scrambled, but enough is there to reconstruct the book, "A Question
of Compassion: An AIDS-Cancer Patient Explores Medical Marijuana." I want to
get it online a piece at a time so that if "they" come to get me, at least
that much of the book (which will be sold online for $1) will belong to the
ages. Then I want to get the printed version off to press (which will be a
$19.95 hardcover "gift" book especially for patients and their caregivers).
Completing this book is my main focus at the moment.
Then I can get on with my Academy Award winning documentary, "A Question of
Compassion." (NEXT year's Oscars.)
I'm also working on another book, inspired by the DEA raid, currently
entitled "The Big Lie: Deceiving America About Medical Marijuana." It's me
talking back, with facts, to the DEA deceptions about medical marijuana.
Meanwhile, last week the DEA hauled my neighbor, personal assistant, and
housekeeper before a federal grand jury for a full day of testimony. Are
they closing in, or grasping at straws?
Concerning my Michigan trial for possession of seven "marijuana cigarettes"
for medical purposes (I remember when this was something to worry about; I'm
becoming a toughened old advocate): The judge, as you'll recall, ruled I
could use the medical marijuana defense before the jury. The judge then
reversed herself and said I could not use the medical marijuana defense,
which left me, essentially, with no defense. We have appealed this decision,
and should receive a response in the next month. If the second judge rules I
can use the medical marijuana defense, then the trial will happen this
Spring. If the judge rules no, then we're looking at another appeal and a
It's like being a character in a soap opera, but I'm not being paid enough.
It was two years ago this month I was diagnosed with AIDS and cancer. The
cancer is in full remission and has been for 18 months. There is less than a
10 percent chance of recurrence. My AIDS viral load remains at
"indefectible" levels. The combination therapy is working fine. I am alive
thanks to modern medical science and one ancient herb, and with this
combination I plan to be around for many Ides of Marches to come.