July 13, 2005

Steve McWilliams Has Left Us :(

Many people probably don't know this, but back in the '90s I helped collect signatures to get Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, on the California ballot. Fifty-six percent of voters approved Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996.

The law took effect the following day, but the Federal Government has done everything it can to ignore that vote and deny California's citizens the medicine our state's voters said they should have!

Below is an e-mail I just received from Rebecca Saltzman, Field Coordinator of Americans for Safe Access, regarding the death of Steve McWilliams, a San Diego medical marijuana activist who apparently lost hope yesterday.

I never knew Steve well, but I did know him, and I think it's disgusting what the Feds did to him! I'm going to repost this in our Message Forums. If you would like to add a comment, that is the place to do it. To get there, Click Here.

If you want to read Steve's obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Click Here.


Steve McWilliams was an incredibly kind, compassionate, intelligent and wise man, as well as a balls to the wall activist.

Steve committed suicide by overdose on Tuesday morning. Steve had been depressed and in terrible pain, and been hospitalized as late as last week. Steve's depression was apparently due to a combination of factors including dreadful thoughts about the possibility of going to jail in light of Raich and his deteriorating health. He was taking powerful pharmaceutical opiates, anti-nausea, anti-migraine, etc. drugs in far higher amounts than when he was able to medicate with marijuana. Evidently, these were the substances he used to overdose.

Join us in memoriam of a life-long activist and patient.

What: Vigils to honor Steve McWilliams, patient, caregiver & activist

When: Tuesday evening, July 19, 2005

Where: In cities nationwide

Who: You! We are calling on patients and advocates nationwide to organize these vigils in your hometown. If you are planning on holding one, email rebecca@safeaccessnow.org or call 510-251-1856 and we will send you visual and text materials to hand out.

Steve was a long-time medical marijuana activist. He was a member of the task force that pushed for San Diego medical marijuana guidelines, and he ran a patient's collective, Shelter from the Storm, that had been officially recognized by the city of San Diego as legal and in compliance with state law.

In September 2002, Steve led a public handout of medical marijuana to patients at San Diego City Hall. After this, the US Attorney warned Steve to destroy his marijuana garden or face prosecution. Later that week, Steve's small garden that served a few seriously ill patients was raided by the DEA. Steve was arrested in October and charged with growing 20 plants. He plead guilty, knowing that he would not be able to present a medical marijuana defense in federal court.

Steve was sentenced to six months and released pending appeal but denied access to marijuana.

Steve passed away on July 12, 2005. He will be sorely missed by all.

Rebecca Saltzman
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access
(510) 251-1856

Posted at 6:52 PM in California, In Memoriam, San Diego