Los Angeles Times
Thursday, August 14, 1997
Advocate of Medical Marijuana Out of Jail;
Drugs: Bel-Air man who housed 4,000 plants is bailed out by actor Woody
Harrelson. But suspect is upset he cannot use pot for cancer-related pain.;
By: SUE McALLISTER
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
After his late-night release from federal custody on bail provided by actor
Woody Harrelson, medical marijuana activist and cancer patient Todd McCormick
expressed relief Wednesday at being out of jail and frustration at being unable
to quell his pain using physician-prescribed marijuana.
"I'm feeling emotionally very up but physically a little tense,"
McCormick said Wednesday afternoon. He was released from jail at midnight, he
McCormick's Bel-Air mansion, rented for $6,000 a month with the advance money
for a book that he is writing on the medical uses of marijuana, housed more than
4,000 pot plants when he and four others were arrested July 29 and charged in
U.S. District Court with conspiring to sell the plants.
His supporters say McCormick, 27, cultivated marijuana to combat his pain from
recurrent cancer and supplied it to others for medical use.
Harrelson, a longtime advocate of industrial hemp and medical marijuana,
offered to post bail last week, but McCormick's release was delayed while
federal prosecutors made sure that the actor understood the obligations
Harrelson, who is filming in Australia, posted the $500,000 bond Tuesday
with the help of one of his business partners, said Alan Isaacman, a lawyer for
McCormick said he has not known Harrelson long.
"He knows my medical condition and my intentions, and he knows I'm no
criminal," McCormick said.
Harrelson's spokesman was not available for comment Wednesday.
Passage of California's Proposition 215 in November legalized marijuana use
for those with a doctor's prescription, but the law does not allow the sale of
marijuana. Further, the law is not applicable if McCormick is indicted under
federal drug laws.
"It's a belief on our part that he ought not to be tried in federal
court," Isaacman said. "We will attempt to persuade them [the U.S.
attorney's office] that the case is more properly tried in state court, or
frankly not anywhere. Mr. McCormick was acting under state law at all
McCormick's lawyers have said that the U.S. attorney has not presented any
evidence that McCormick was selling marijuana.
McCormick said Wednesday that he was suffering from neck pain but was
prohibited by the conditions of his bail from smoking marijuana to ease his
discomfort. Five of his vertebrae were fused as a result of childhood bone
cancer, he said, causing him frequent pain.
"[Marijuana] is his medication and he cannot use his medication under
order of the court," said Peter McWilliams, McCormick's friend and
publisher. "He's in the situation that if he uses his medication, he will