Newsbrief: San Diego Medical Marijuana Activist Arrested on Federal Charges 10/18/02

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First they delivered a threat, then they came for the garden, and on October 11, the feds came for Steven McWilliams. McWilliams, a well-known Southern California medical marijuana activist and dispensary operator, was charged with manufacturing marijuana and faces a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence in the latest escalation of federal government attempts to shut him up. McWilliams, who has worked for years with state and local officials to set up a workable medical marijuana dispensary, came into the feds' cross-hairs last month when he organized a medical marijuana giveaway in San Diego to protest a raid days earlier at the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz.

Shortly after McWilliams led the San Diego protest, DEA agents stopped him on the street and handed him a letter from interim US Attorney Carol Lam warning that he could be arrested if he continued to grow marijuana. Days later, DEA agents raided his home and garden and seized his crop. McWilliams and the Shelter from the Storm collective he ran with partner Barbara McKenzie are among the more than 35 California medical marijuana operations raided by the DEA since September 11, 2001.

McWilliams has survived numerous scrapes with local and state officials over medical marijuana, but had not been bothered since a 1999 raid that netted 448 plants, for which he was never prosecuted. In an example of the vindictiveness with which the Justice Department is pursuing California medical marijuana activists, federal prosecutors are now charging him for that raid, thus making possible the mandatory minimum sentence.

The DEA blamed McWilliams for daring to protest. "The DEA is not singling these people out," maintained San Diego agency spokesman Donald Thornhill. "We're just enforcing the law. This guy is violating the law and he's flaunting it. He brought this whole thing on himself."

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Issue #259, 10/18/02 Election 2002:00:00 The Initiatives | Election 2002:00:00 Arizona | Election 2002:00:00 District of Columbia | Election 2002:00:00 Nevada | Election 2002:00:00 Ohio | Election 2002:00:00 South Dakota | Election 2002:00:00 Local Ballot Issues in San Francisco and Massachusetts | November Coalition Journey for Justice Roars through Michigan | Drug War Corruption in Colombia and Mexico | Newsbrief: New Compilation of California Medical Marijuana Guideline Info on | Newsbrief: San Diego Medical Marijuana Activist Arrested on Federal Charges | Newsbrief: Damned Sad -- MADD Sues DAMMADD | Newsbrief: This Week's Cop Corruption Story | Newsbrief: DARE Attrition Continues in Kansas City, Kansas | Newsbrief: Canada Study Looks at Marijuana for HIV/AIDS Woes | Newsbrief: In First, British Marijuana User Wins with Medical Necessity Defense | Newsbrief: Virginia Man Lucks Out with Only Two Years in Prison for Sharing Joint with Teenager | Newsbrief: BC City Governments Ask for Tougher Grow Penalties | Newsbrief: Florida School District Wants Positive Drug Test Kids to Pay for Own Counseling | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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