McCormick and McWilliams Accept Plea Bargains

As part of an agreement reached with federal prosecutors, medical marijuana activists Todd McCormick and Peter McWilliams pleaded guilty last Friday to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. In return, other charges carrying a 10-year mandatory sentence were dismissed against both men.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge George King ruled that neither defendant would be permitted to raise a medical necessity defense to the charges, despite a September ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that medical necessity can be a viable defense for those accused of violating federal marijuana laws.
In October, the U.S. Justice Department asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision. Since the district court would not allow a medical necessity defense, McCormick and McWilliams accepted a plea bargain and entered a guilty plea to lesser charges. Both could have faced a 10-year minimum for the cultivation of 6,000 marijuana plants.
McCormick, who has bone cancer, agreed to a five-year sentence with the right to appeal the ruling precluding a medical necessity defense to the 9th Circuit, and the likelihood of remaining free pending the appeal.
“If I would have been found guilty at trial, I would have been remanded into custody and not allowed an appeal bond,” McCormick said. “I felt this was the smartest way to protect my health, my well-being and my rights in an appellate process.”
McWilliams, a best selling author who has both AIDS and cancer, waived his right to appeal, in exchange for avoiding a mandatory sentence.
McWilliams could receive a sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison. Both men will be sentenced on Feb. 28, 2000.
For more information, please contact Tom Ballanco, Esq., attorney for Peter McWilliams at (310) 291-3659; David Michael, Esq., attorney for Todd McCormick at (530) 304-7793, or visit Peter McWilliams’ web site at