In 2008 I attended Seattle Hempfest for the first time, and what a year it was.
My company, Trip-C Jewelry & Art, had just been conceived and was well on its way. It was the first time I’d hear, “That’s it stop, I’m gonna smoke my pot Right Here … just like everybody else!”
It would not be the last. In fact, I heard it every year I went. There would usually be a circle, at least 30 feet (or 9 meters) in diameter around the groups of police set up at random intervals throughout the mile-long park. As long as there was a good buffer around the authorities, the whole park was hazy with cannabis smoke.
The Myrtle Edwards park is an interesting place, bordered on one side by water and by railroad tracks on the other. Unless you want to provoke the department of Homeland Security or swim, it is only accessible from opposite ends, over a mile apart! This makes for fun circumstances, but is light years away from where the event started in Volunteer Park over 20 years ago.
I vended for the first time in 2009. I was set up in what must have been the geographical centre of the park. There were two main stages and at least one or more secondary stages. Closest to the rose garden near the middle was the Peter McWillams memorial stage, or McWilliams for short. While most video footage was focused on the main stage, many wonderful presentations, motivational speakers and good music played continually on the McWilliams stage. It was not until many years later that I began to discover what the McWillaims memorial stage was all about and how it came to be dedicated.
Peter McWilliams was a man with a multi-faceted life, who happened to have an illness (HIV) which cannabis can greatly improve, if not send into full remission. Peter McWilliams may be remembered by the marijuana movement as a patient, but he was also a writer and a talented poet. Profound, uplifting and so simple in practice, he seemed to subtly preach “…be good to yourself.”
A young woman from the United States named Julia R. has taken up the challenge of keeping Peter McWilliams’ memory alive by starting PeterMcWilliams.org, a website about the man and his life.
August 5, 2014 would have been his 65th birthday. Peter was more than just a patient, he was a well-rounded individual with many varied interests and much diversity in his life. While his belief in Medical Cannabis and his passionate advocacy for patients rights became a large part of his life, it is not all there was to him. Emotion, the desire to uplift others, and beauty poured from every drop of ink he laid to paper.
I recently watched an amazing video featuring activists from both Canada and America chronicling the injustice that befell Peter McWilliams. It is still common practice for many patients to have to fight for their rights, to stand up and openly declare that people must have the right to treat themselves with whatever substance that they themselves, and no one else, deems necessary.
They are not screaming, “why can’t we get high?” They are screaming, “why can’t we cure or treat ourselves?”
This wonderful man’s life and challenge has also come to the attention of professional stoner Tommy Chong, who claims to have cured his own cancer with Cannabis Oil. “Peter was a very special person,” Tommy said.
Rick Simpson is a man who has brought much attention to the healing properties of Cannabis Oil. As a supporter of anyone who needs the curative power of this substance, Rick Simpson honoured Peter with a video and his comments.
“Peter was a great man who was taken from us due to the insanity of those who have been controlling our existence,” Simpson said, “but I expect that his work will have an everlasting effect on our culture and soon others will no longer have to suffer the same fate that he did, at the hands of these monsters.”
Marijuana activist Marc Emery reviewed McWilliams book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, and said it’s “one of the most important works on the immoral imposition of laws that punish normal human behaviour, it is a joy to read, and I discovered something new to add to my arsenal of knowledge on every page.”
In Peter’s own words, he begged for people to evaluate and activate. Once an injustice, inequity or desire is identified, the worst tragedy is apathy.
“The world has any number of good people right now, with the dream deep in their hearts to make changes for the better,” he wrote in his book LOVE 101. “The problem is not they’re doing *nothing*; the problem is that they’re doing *something else.*”