By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com September 24 2002 12:00 AM ET
A federal prosecutor in Washington State has apparently altered his stance on a policy of tolerance regarding medical marijuana use in the state to a more rigid position after four Bremerton, Wash., medical marijuana growers received a terse letter from him last month, The Seattle Times reports. The letter from U.S. attorney John McKay says he will begin prosecuting marijuana growers no matter how much of the drug they grow. Washington voters in 1998 approved a ballot initiative allowing for the use of medicinal marijuana by people with cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and other chronic illnesses.
Medical marijuana advocates in the state believe that McKay's letter will set the stage for federal raids on marijuana growers, distributors, and users, similar to the raids that have happened over the past two years in California. "I'm afraid [federal agents] will do anything they can to interrupt this movement," said Rob Killian, a Seattle family practitioner and medical marijuana advocate. "That would mean even going after physicians who have the temerity to discuss this with patients and people who assist patients finding this drug."
Monte Levine, one of the men who received the letter from McKay, uses marijuana to treat symptoms of end-stage liver disease. He plans to continue to grow and use the drug despite McKay's threats. "We're Americans standing up for our rights, and if they want to imprison sick people, so be it," he said.