Don't Treat Patients Using Marijuana as Criminals

Don't Treat Patients Using Marijuana as Criminals
Posted by CN Staff on April 08, 2005 at 09:20:03 PT
By Montel Williams
Source: Providence Journal
New York -- You may know me as a television talk-show host, but here in Rhode Island and 39 other states, I am also a criminal. My crime? Using the medicine that has allowed me to lead a normal life, despite having multiple sclerosis: medical marijuana.Being diagnosed with MS, in 1999, felt like a death sentence. I doubted my ability to function as a father, son, brother, friend, talk-show host and producer. I honestly couldn't see a future.
I had always taken excellent care of my body; I'd worked out, followed a healthy diet, and looked the picture of health. What no one could see was the mind-numbing pain that seared through my legs, as if I were being stabbed with hot pokers.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. Yet these powerful, expensive drugs brought no relief.I couldn't sleep. I was agitated; my legs kicked involuntarily in bed, and the pain was so bad I found myself crying in the middle of the night. And all these heavy-duty narcotics made me nearly incoherent; I couldn't take them when I had to work because they turned me into a zombie.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 the severe mental and physical pain that I experienced. It was so bad that I twice attempted suicide.Finally, someone suggested that I try smoking a little marijuana before going to bed, saying that it might help me fall asleep. Skeptical but desperate, I tried it.Three puffs and within minutes the excruciating pain in my legs subsided. I had my first restful sleep in months. The effect was miraculous.But the federal government classifies marijuana in the same category as LSD, PCP, and heroin -- considered unsafe to use even under medical supervision. Physicians are allowed to prescribe cocaine, morphine, and methamphetamine, but not marijuana.Ninty-nine percent of marijuana arrests are made by local police, under state law -- but the states can decide not to arrest medical-marijuana patients. Ten states now protect medical-marijuana patients from arrest, the latest being Montana, whose medical-marijuana law passed in November with 62 percent of the vote. Yet in Rhode Island, I'm still a criminal.Medical and public-health organizations agree that medical marijuana can be beneficial. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, released a study commissioned by the White House that had found marijuana effective in combating pain, nausea, and other symptoms afflicting patients with MS, cancer, and other illnesses. The American Public Health Association's policy statement summarizes the extensive research showing marijuana's effectiveness, and adds: "Marijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision. . . . Greater harm is caused by the consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use."Patients struggling for their lives against such illnesses as MS, cancer and AIDS should not be treated as criminals. We need to get beyond politics. We need more research into marijuana's medicinal effects, and we should heed the research already available. The federal government should change marijuana's classification so that physicians can prescribe it.But while we wait for the federal government to act -- which, sadly, may take some time -- the states should take action to protect patients. Just such legislation, Senate Bill 710 and House Bill 6052, is now under consideration by the Rhode Island legislature. The bills deserve immediate passage.Because of medical marijuana, I am still alive -- and leading a far more fruitful life than before. I am not alone. There are thousands of patients like me, and we should not be treated as criminals.Montel Williams is a television talk-show host.Complete Title: Montel Williams: Don't Treat Patients Using Marijuana as CriminalsSource: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author: Montel WilliamsPublished: Friday, April 8, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Montel Williams Marijuana Information Links Rally Behind Medical Marijuana House & Senate To Hear MMJ Bill for Your Life Shouldn't Be a Crime
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Comment #5 posted by unkat27 on April 10, 2005 at 08:52:34 PT
No to all Cannabis Criminality
With much respect for medicinal marijuana users, of which i am one (when I can get it, which is quite rarely), I would like to extend the title of this article by saying, "Don't treat ANYONE who uses marijuana as a criminal." It really is nothing more than bad policy in the hands of stupid sadists and does absolutely nothing to make the world a better place.
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Comment #4 posted by Richard Paul Zuckerm on April 09, 2005 at 09:55:41 PT:
Please contact, for more information pertaining to the GLOBAL MARIJUANA MARCH, scheduled for May 7, 2005?Richard Paul Zuckerman, Box 159, Metuchen, N.J., 08840-0159.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on April 08, 2005 at 17:04:05 PT
Marijuana Policy Project Announces 
Marijuana Policy Project Announces Talent Line-up
for 10th Anniversary Gala in Los Angeles, May 9th
Showtime's "Reefer Madness" cast & Ray Benson make special appearances
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- The Marijuana Policy Project is pleased to announce the talent line-up for their 10th Anniversary Fundraising Gala in Los Angeles on May 9, 2005 at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica. Tickets are available at or by calling Blue Room Events at 310-491-1401. The event will be celebrate MPP's victories over the past 10 years and commemorate the progress of the entire marijuana policy reform movement.Talk show host Montel Williams is serving as the honorary chair of the event. Williams, who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, has advocated energetically for protection of patients on his television show, in personal visits to Capitol Hill and the New York state capitol, and more.The master of ceremonies for the event will be top international comedian Tom Rhodes. The event will feature a production numbers from the upcoming Showtime's movie musical Reefer Madness performed by its stars Christian Campbell, John Kassffir, and Amy Spanger. Western swing king Ray Benson will perform as will blazing hot singer songwriter Inara George and up and comer Lily Holbrook. Top DJ John Kelly will spin at the VIP reception prior to the event. Even more entertainment and celebrity presenters are still being confirmed.Honored at the gala will be Angel Raich, the noted medical marijuana activist. Raich, who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, nausea, and several chronic pain disorders, was partly paralyzed until she started using marijuana. As a result of Angel and co-filer Diane Monson's lawsuit against the federal government, both are now legally allowed to use, possess, and grow their own marijuana under California state law and federal law. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Angel and Diane Monson this spring, the federal government would be blocked from arresting medical marijuana patients whose activities are legal under state laws anywhere in the country. Raich and Monson have been voted the Marijuana Policy Reform Activists of the Year (2004) by MPP's membership.Actor Tommy Chong will receive the Courage Under Fire Award at the gala. Chong recently spent nine months in federal prison after being targeted by the U.S. Justice Department for selling glassware that could be used to smoke marijuana. He was the only one of 55 defendants to do prison time as a result of "Operation Pipe Dreams," which used $12 million in tax dollars shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Chong recently spent nine months in federal prison for paraphernalia trafficking, the only one of 55 people arrested in the Justice Department endeavor, Operation Pipe Dream, that used $12 million of tax dollars in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, not to track terrorists, but to chase Internet sales of water pipes.Another gala will take place in Washington, D.C. on May 4, at which U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) will be honored. With more than 17,000 members and 150,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana -- both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. MPP believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is imprisonment. For more information, see
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Comment #2 posted by SoberStoner on April 08, 2005 at 13:00:15 PT
Montel: A real american hero
I have always liked Montel as he has always presented himself as a reasonable, intelligent, outspoken person. He is the perfect spokesman for our fight. His writing and speaking engagements that he has devoted to his miracle medicine could prove to be very influential.With people like Montel on our side, the light will eventually pierce the hatred and lies that have been around for far too long.As someone with IBS and constant recurring migraines who wants to avoid using pharma-poisons whenever possible in favor of natural healthy solutions, the fact that I have to fear jail time just so I can feel 'normal' is just another sad indication of how far this country has strayed from its original ideals in favor of the never-ending pursuit of money over anything else.It's way past time for this painful charade to end and collapse the whole house of cards that is based off of prohibition. Change is scary, but once it's complete, everyone will be better off (except possibly for those that make their living off of other people's misery, and in their case, they will get what they deserve)
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on April 08, 2005 at 12:07:00 PT
I've been so schooled by this movement
I never really understood the point of state's rights arguments in the past. Boy have I been educated. This movement is about so much more than just pot. 
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