MEDICAL MARIJUANA: A Call for Jury Nullification of McWilliams Trial
Calling it a "Kafkaesque scenario," Charles Levendosky, editor of the Casper, WY Star-Tribune, writes that the federal case against AIDS patient Peter McWilliams, who is charged with "manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and aiding and abetting the manufacture of marijuana," should end in jury nullification. A Los Angeles judge last week barred the co-defendants from referencing Proposition 215 or medical uses of marijuana in their defense -- including NIH's report on the usefulness of medical marijuana, the defendants' medical conditions or the federal government's own experimental program that treats eight patients with marijuana. In certain cases, Levendosky writes, a jury can refuse "to apply the law because it wants to send a message about a social issue or because the result dictated by the law is contrary to the jury's sense of justice, morality or fairness." He contends that this is just such a case. McWilliams says that smoking marijuana is the only way he was able to control the nausea from chemotherapy for AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He vomited all of his prescribed medications and "might have died -- except he discovered that smoking marijuana controlled the nausea long enough for his body to absorb his medications." Today, "McWilliams' health is failing, his publishing house of 32 years is bankrupt and he faces 10 years in federal prison -- because he is ill and followed a California state law." His attorney is not allowed to tell the jury "that he cannot address some key issues and why he can't." Levendosky concludes, "If ever there was a case in American law that justified jury nullification, it's this one. The federal prosecutors, in this case, have acted like shameless bullies -- pounding a sick man into the ground. But their action is really aimed at all citizens who may suffer from AIDS or cancer" (11/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.