In 1993 McWilliams came to the attention of libertarians everywhere with his book, Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do, still considered by many to be a "Libertarian Bible."
In March 1996 McWilliams was diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but discovered that marijuana was the cure for the nausea he suffered as a side-effect of his medications.
Once McWilliams became an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana the government drug war thugs, ignoring the fact that Prop 215 had been passed in California that year that allowed terminally ill patients access to medical marijuana, attacked him with a vengeance.
This is how the Loose Cannon Libertarian website later remembered his death in a 2003 article:
From the LA Times: In 1999, libertarian and marijuana legalization activist Peter McWilliams was forced to plead guilty to reduced drug charges of ten years in the slammer after a judge refused to allow his medical necessity defense. McWilliams, a wheelchair-bound AIDS patient at the time, grew and smoked pot as the only way to prevent heaving up the toxic stew of medications that was keeping him alive. US District Court Judge George H. King’s ruling amounted to a death sentence.
Libertarians are keenly aware of, and still outraged by, the McWilliams case. Peter didn’t die in prison. Awaiting appeal, he died at home in exactly the manner anyone, including the aforementioned judge, could have predicted, by gagging on his own vomit. Way to go, judicial genius.
The official coroner's report listed his cause of death as a heart attack. This led many to accuse the government of paying off the coroner. Others contend that the official cause of death was irrelevant; the government had hounded him to death.
His "trial" was not a search for justice. The Judge essentially conspired with the prosecution to deny McWilliams any meaningful defense at all, not allowing him to even mention his AIDS or Prop 215 and, again according to petermcwilliams.org, was even openly threatened by the establishment: "Peter had been jailed for thirty days and told if he ever used medical marijuana again, his mother and his brother would lose their houses which were being used as collateral."
This was neither a trial by his peers nor a show trial by the state but a star chamber lynching.
RIP Peter McWilliams. Libertarians remember.