Out of Control Policy Blog

Fixing the stupidity of medical marijuana

News from the Marijuana Policy Project.

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) -- along with nine cosponsors -- introduced the "Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would end the federal government's gag order on medical marijuana defendants in federal court by ensuring that they can introduce evidence that their marijuana-related activity was for a valid medical purpose under state law.

The bill's namesake, Steve McWilliams, was a longtime California advocate for medical marijuana patients who tragically took his own life on July 12, 2005, while awaiting federal sentencing for providing medical marijuana to seriously ill patients in San Diego.

McWilliams had been growing marijuana for sick and dying patients, including a 73-year-old leukemia patient, a 70-year-old prostate cancer patient, and a terminal transplant patient. Even though the San Diego city government had officially recognized the legitimacy of McWilliams' medical marijuana collective -- he was growing marijuana for patients in compliance with state law -- the Drug Enforcement Administration targeted him for prosecution.

Under federal law, McWilliams was barred from mentioning in federal court that he was providing marijuana to sick and dying patients in compliance with state law. He pleaded guilty to the charges because, without a plea agreement, he faced 40 years in federal prison. Facing years in prison and unable to present jurors with accurate information about his activities, McWilliams took his own life.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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