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.;


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 said.

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 involved.
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.
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 times."
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 be imprisoned."