Judge Bars Medical Need, Prop. 215 as Basis for
Defense in Marijuana Trial
A federal judge ruled Friday that two medical
marijuana activists cannot use necessity as a defense in their upcoming drug
They also cannot refer to their medical
conditions, the medical uses of marijuana or California's Proposition 215, which
allowed the personal use of marijuana for medical purposes, said U.S. District
Judge George King.
Todd McCormick, who has bone cancer, and Peter
McWilliams, who has AIDS and cancer in remission, are accused of growing and
They were arrested after federal officials found
more than 6,000 plants growing in a Bel-Air mansion and three other leased
locations in Los Angeles County.
McWilliams, a self-help publisher, is accused of
financing the operation. McCormick and others are accused of growing the pot and
trying to sell it to the Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club, which has dispensed
the drug since Californians voted in 1996 to legalize it for medical use.
They are scheduled to stand trial Nov. 16.
McWilliams said he was devastated by the decision.
"It's frustrating to be in a state where voters voted that I can have this
medication," he said. "I am needlessly dying at the prime of my
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office refused
to comment beyond the judge's ruling.
McWilliams said he has admitted growing marijuana
for his own use. He says he can only keep down his AIDS medication by smoking
marijuana and that his health has suffered since his arrest in July 1998.
King's ruling disallowed a defense based on
medical necessity because it "is not available as a matter of law,"
since Congress has ruled marijuana has no medical merit. Proposition 215
recognizes some medical benefits, but U.S. officials say state laws do not apply
to federal offenses.