Fighting for Your Life Shouldn't Be a Crime

Fighting for Your Life Shouldn't Be a Crime
Posted by CN Staff on February 14, 2005 at 18:23:44 PT
By Montel Williams
Source: Chicago Tribune 
Talk-show host Montel Williams tried many different medications to dull the pain from MS, but the only thing that has worked for him has been marijuana. That makes him a criminal in Illinois.You may know me as a television talk-show host, but I am also a criminal. My crime? Using the medicine that has allowed me to live a normal life despite having multiple sclerosis.
Being diagnosed with MS in February 1999 felt like a death sentence. I wondered what the future held for my family and me. Would I cease to be self-sufficient and independent?I always took excellent care of my body. I worked out, followed a healthy diet and looked the picture of health. What I was hiding was the mind-numbing pain that seared through my legs as if I was being stabbed with hot pokers. I doubted my ability to function as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, talk-show host and producer. I honestly couldn't see a future.My doctors wrote me prescriptions for some of the strongest painkillers available. I took Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin on a regular basis, two at a time, every three or four hours. I was knowingly risking overdose just trying to make the pain bearable. In my desperation, I even tried morphine.These powerful, expensive drugs brought me no relief. Instead, they made me nearly incoherent. I couldn't take them when I had to work because they turned me into a zombie.Yet, even with all the drugs, I couldn't sleep. I was agitated, my legs kicked involuntarily in bed, and I found myself crying in the middle of the night.Worse, these drugs are all highly addictive. I did not want to become a junkie, wasted and out of control. I spiraled deeper into a black hole of depression.In "Climbing Higher," my book on living with MS, I write in detail about how I became suicidal and twice attempted to end my life. I was in severe mental and physical pain, getting little sleep and feeling completely spent. Someone suggested that I try smoking a little marijuana before going to bed, saying it might help me fall asleep.Skeptical but desperate, I tried it. It was like a miracle. Three puffs and within minutes the excruciating pain in my legs subsided.I had my first restful sleep in months. When I awoke, the sheet and blankets weren't on the floor and my legs had taken a break from their nightly kicking.Marijuana is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug, meaning that--like PCP, LSD and heroin--it is considered unsafe to use under any conditions, including medical supervision. Physicians are not allowed to prescribe it. But 99 percent of marijuana arrests are made by local police under state law, and states can choose not to arrest medical marijuana patients.Last year, Montana and Vermont joined the list of states that protect medical marijuana patients from arrest under state law, bringing the total up to 10--one-fifth of the U.S.But in Illinois, I'm still a criminal.In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, released a two-year study of marijuana that showed it was effective in combating the muscle spasms associated with MS. Canada, Great Britain, Israel and Netherlands also have conducted studies on marijuana and found that it can help people suffering from certain forms of cancer, AIDS, MS and Tourette's syndrome by relieving symptoms such as pain, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle spasms and tics. Patients struggling for life and dignity against illnesses like MS, cancer or AIDS should not be treated as criminals.It is time to take politics out of the debate. It is time for government-sanctioned research into the medicinal effects of marijuana and time to heed the research already available. It is time to change marijuana's classification so that physicians can prescribe it.And while we await that rescheduling--which must be done at the federal level--states can and should act now to protect patients under state law. Just such a bill, House Bill 0407, is under consideration by the Illinois House.In the eyes of the law, I am a criminal. But because of medical marijuana, I am still alive and living a far more productive, fruitful life than before. And that shouldn't be a crime.TV Talk show host Montel Williams is the author of "Climbing Higher."Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Montel WilliamsPublished: February 14, 2005Copyright: 2005 Chicago Tribune CompanyContact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Montel Williams Bill Would Allow Ill Illinoisans To Use Marijuana Cloud Medical Marijuana Debate Montel Williams on Medical Marijuana
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Comment #13 posted by Richard Paul Zuckerm on February 15, 2005 at 12:34:49 PT:
Don't make me cry, please? I have tried hard to get through to legislators on this issue. About a month ago, Montel Williams appeared at the Pines Manor, on Route 27, Edison, New Jersey. I noticed he was there because at the end of a Middlesex County Bar Association dinner, of which I am an affiliate member, I noticed a large crowd in the hallway of the Pines Manor, walked over to the crowd, asked the camera man what is happening, was told Montel was to appear there, and I expressed my sincere grief over the God forsaken law against med pot. I have telephoned, written and personally visited New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono, located in Edison, N.J., telephoned and written to New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith, who is located on Stelton Road, in Piscataway, New Jersey, have personally spoken to Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., one of the only members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from New Jersey [Yet he OPPOSES med pot because it has not been approved by the FDA!!!], and other legislators, asking for Medical Marijuana legislation. Unfortunately, they are more concerned with their political well being than with the people's well being! "If you tremble at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine." Ernesto Che Guevara.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on February 15, 2005 at 07:50:02 PT
Just a Big Thank You Everyone
That's all for now!
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Comment #11 posted by mayan on February 15, 2005 at 07:42:05 PT
Once Again...
Urge legislators to support H.B. 407 this session: Legislature Considers Medical Marijuana - Ask your Representative to support HB 407! Way to go, dongenero! We've got to let them know we are watching closely.
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Comment #10 posted by siege on February 15, 2005 at 07:30:16 PT
Bill Benson is a former revenue collector for the State of Illinois.
Benson indeed has the 17,000 hard documents he maintains prove his allegations that both the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments were never ratified.
Sixteenth Amendment - the so-called "income tax amendment'The Seventeenth Amendment allows for U.S. Senators to be elected by the citizens of the states.
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Comment #9 posted by potpal on February 15, 2005 at 07:21:34 PT
fyi, with the internet, anyone can send email to any states rep, it is doubtful they'd do the dd to assure that you are one of their constituents. Doubtful they get read to begin with. So write on.Cheers. 
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Comment #8 posted by dongenero on February 15, 2005 at 07:18:20 PT
Illinois HB 407
I just phoned the office of my district House Representative to urge support for HB 407.I doubt that my call will sway my representative's opinion but, maybe it will make her and her staff give it another thought.We just keep the issue at the front.
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on February 15, 2005 at 07:14:55 PT
Right On
It is time to take politics out of the debate.Montel is right on. The only people medical cannabis should concern are doctors and their patients(and cannabis providers). Everyone else should mind their own damned business. Politicians,cops and paid liars like Barthwell should butt out!On an unrelated note, here's the Indybay link announcing today's ASA press conference...Americans for Safe Access File Lawsuit Against CHP and Governor: the police chiefs of the land are sparking up...Accused chief: Drug evidence illegal,0,3068692.story?coll=all-newslocal-hedWhen everyone is a criminal maybe the law is criminal. 
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Comment #6 posted by cloud7 on February 15, 2005 at 06:54:52 PT
Inmates are running the asylum Grader Punished for Bag of Dirt
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on February 15, 2005 at 05:56:10 PT:
Partly related: Illinoisans, here's your shot
Pete Guither of DrugWarRant will be at the hearing for House Bill 0407 at the Human Services Committee Hearing Feb 17 2005 8:00 AM Stratton Building Room D-1 Springfield, IL. He could use some backup. Bodies *do* count, people; the more warm ones showing your support of this measure, the more embarassing it looks for the antis. And the more if gives pause to those shallow pols who think the public eqaully shallow and easily distracted.If you want an analogy from popular culture as to how important this is:Aragorn: "The beacons of Minas Tirith! The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!"Theoden, resolve hardening his eyes: "And Rohan shall answer! Summon the Roherrim!"And for those who think my analogy is too dramatic, then I can only submit that for far too many, this IS life or death. 
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on February 15, 2005 at 04:05:08 PT:
A sledgehammer between the eyes of antis
This is one of the most outrageous aspects of the entire matter: med users are 'criminals'. You've never hurt anyone. You've never stolen anything. Never destroyed anyone's property.'re a criminal.While in the name of the DrugWar, its' minions have shotgunned children in the back as they lay face down on the floor (Alberto Sepulveda), greedily planned their forfeiture operations based upon the amount they hoped to acquire (Donald Scott comes to mind; another fatality), lied (Johnny Pee and "Dr." Barthwell are perfect examples; just about everything they say is deliberate, bald-faced misinformation: 'crack of marijuana' my arse) and ruined millions of lives with needless arrests and pointless incarcerations. Bad enough they do this here; abroad, they do incalculable damage to the US's reputation with acts like spraying dirt poor campesinos in Latin America with defoliants not even tested for safety in the US (spraying which has been halted in Afghanistan for that among other reasons, yet continues in Colombia for others).Now, I ask you: WHOSE conduct is 'criminal'? WE aren't doing this; those charged to 'protect and serve' ('serve' like they have all the innocent people they've killed?) are the guilty party, not the cannabists.Some day there will be a reckoning. Let it begin in Illinois...
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Comment #3 posted by global_warming on February 15, 2005 at 02:53:36 PT
NJ Update
Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Bipartisan Supports, Opposition
Posted by Tammy Tibbetts on Tuesday, February 15th, 2005 at 01:25Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Bipartisan Supports, Opposition
By Tammy Tibbetts
E-mail tammy jerseypolitics.comA potentially controversial bill has garnered some unexpected bipartisan support, including that of one of New Jersey’s most outspoken Conservatives.Last month, State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) introduced the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which would legalize marijuana use for the severely ill. Since then, Acting Governor Richard Codey has expressed his opposition to the bill and, as other legislators have weighed in with varied opinions, a consensus seems unlikely.The bill, S-2200, would allow those with “debilitating medical conditions,” such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, positive HIV or AIDS, to legally obtain marijuana to alleviate their pain.Scutari’s bill cites a March 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine to substantiate the benefits of using marijuana to relieve symptoms such as chronic pain, seizures and severe nausea, which are often associated with the aforementioned illnesses.Scutari, a Linden Township prosecutor, no longer wants patients with debilitating medical conditions incriminated for marijuana use, according to Liz Opacity, a constituent services legislative aid for his District 22 office.Legally speaking, “This bill doesn’t conflict with federal government [drug policies],” Opacity said, referring to the bill’s mention of U.S. Sentencing Commission and the FBI finding that 99 out of every 100 marijuana arrests in the United States are made under state, rather than federal, law. Instead, it allows qualifying patients to obtain a registration card that would allow them to obtain six plants, or one ounce, of medical marijuana. The Department of Heath and Senior Services would issue the registration cards to patients who have been certified by doctors – but doctors would not distribute the marijuana. “We can’t mention where patients can get it or who prescribes it, because if we did it would be in direct violation of the federal government,” Opacity said.Despite the potential controversy, the Trenton Times and Atlantic City Press have both endorsed Scutari’s bill; they have also identified Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) as supporters, though a companion bill has yet to appear in the Assembly. Further GOP support has come from Bogota mayor and gubernatorial candidate, Steve Lonegan. “I support the rights of doctors to prescribe what they feel their patients need,” he said, adding, “There are far more potentially destructive drugs out there than marijuana.”One of the strongest voices in support of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act comes from former Congressional candidate and chairman of the NJ Marijuana Party, Ed Forchion, also known as “NJ Weedman.” His party is planning a letter writing campaign to the editors of New Jersey newspapers and will hold rallies in front of the state capital, where they will pass out leaflets in support of the bill to the public.“I feel this is a very important act because it decriminalizes the [activities of] thousands of people who are currently using marijuana regardless of the asinine laws that criminalize its use,” he wrote in an e-mail. He added that he uses marijuana for his depression and chronic back pain and has lost jobs as a result. “The current laws are absurd and anyone who believes that marijuana is dangerous or not useful is an idiot who has believed the government’s lies,” he wrote.Opposition to the bill can also be found among Democrats and Republicans alike. Codey (D-Essex), who also serves as president of the State Senate, “is opposed to the use of medical marijuana,” according to spokeswoman Kelley Heck.Sen. Robert W. Singer (R-Jackson), who sits on the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee, wishes to be counted in the “no column,” as well. “It’s just like needle exchange,” he said. “It needs more backing and credibility,” he said, doubting that the 1999 study cited in the bill amounts to sufficient research.At the 7th District Assembly office, legislative director Larry Lewis acknowledged that “medical marijuana is a bifurcating issue,” dividing both New Jersey’s voters and legislators.S-2200 was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on January 11th. If the bill becomes law, New Jersey would follow Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana – all states that have legalized marijuana for certain medicinal
 Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Bipartisan Supports, Opposition 
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on February 14, 2005 at 18:31:43 PT
now where is Ophra
have Montel on pass out his book.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 14, 2005 at 18:24:29 PT
Thank You Montel!
Bless Your Heart!
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