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 DEA.
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, including me.
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 longer wait.
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.