The Los Angeles Times
Letter to the Editor
March 16, 1999
Re "Judge Denies AIDS Patient's Request for Marijuana," March
10: The decision of U.S. District Judge George H. King to refuse to allow Peter
McWilliams the medical use of marijuana is unconscionable.
King says he cannot allow, to a possibly dying man, "what amounts to a
license to violate federal law." Yet the judge himself should know two
things: 1) Necessity, as in life and death, is a common-law reason to violate
many kinds of laws; and 2) the drug laws he is talking about blatantly and
egregiously violate the 10th Amendment, not to mention every person's natural
right to use medicine.
A judge who cannot find some reason or pretext to grant the compassionate use of
marijuana to McWilliams is therefore a man without conscience or honesty: Not
just a bad judge, but a bad man.
KELLEY L. ROSS
After reading the above letter in the paper, I sent the letter below to
the Los Angeles Times. Alas, the editors chose not to publish it, but, as
this is my web page, I can set the record straight here. I have deep
appreciation for Mr. Ross for writing his letter.
Times was kind enough to published a letter on my behalf on March 15,
1999.While I appreciate the support indicated by the writer of this letter, I
wish to disagree on one point: I do not consider U.S. District Judge George H.
King either a “bad judge” or a “bad man.”
when the lawyers made oral argument before the judge over whether I should
receive medical marijuana, Judge King said he was “struggling hard and
mightily” with his decision, and I believe he was. “Help me struggle,” he
implored the lawyers, “What is the alternative?”
unfortunately, is no alternative. On one hand, no other medication but medical
marijuana keeps down my anti-AIDS medication, and I am dying as a result. The
medical results are conclusive. On the other hand, marijuana is illegal at the
federal level for all purposes, period.
are all sort of on the spot,” Judge King summed it up succinctly.
his ruling, Judge King did not question my need for medical marijuana to save my
life. He did not rule on that issue at all. His ruling was that he did not have
the power as a federal judge to override the clear will of Congress--and when it
comes to Congress, that will is very clear, indeed. (“The Marijuana Is Not
Medicine Act of 1998” should give you an idea.)
a Libertarian, I admire Judge King’s judicial restraint. I believe in the rule
of law. I have no desire to live in a country in which any federal judge can
rewrite any law any way any time he or she pleases.
Judge King is sympathetic to my plight was indicated by a footnote he was kind
and compassionate enough to add:
council has represented in open court that this matter has been the subject of
much discussion and consideration within the Department of Justice. Nothing in
this order should be taken to dissuade the parties from engaging in further
informal discussions with the view toward reaching some appropriate
the words of a bad judge or a bad man.