Montel Williams Makes the Case for Medical Pot

Montel Williams Makes the Case for Medical Pot
Posted by CN Staff on June 13, 2007 at 06:16:28 PT
By Montel Williams, AlterNet
Source: AlterNet
Dear Governor Rell,I'm writing you today to ask for your support for HB 6715, the Compassionate Use Act. This is an important piece of legislation that should become law. Outside my work as a talk-show host, I have for several years spoken out about my use of medical marijuana for the pain caused by multiple sclerosis.
That surprised a few people, but recent research has proven that I was right -- right about marijuana's medical benefits and right about how urgent it is for states such as Connecticut to change their laws so that sick people aren't treated as criminals.Back in March, I came to Hartford to participate in a press conference with patients, legislators and caregivers, and all of us shared powerful personal stories about what this legislation really means. It was a powerful experience. The bipartisan support for this legislation is extraordinary, and is indicative of the moral urgency behind this issue.If you see me on television, I look healthy. What you don't see is the mind-numbing pain searing through my legs like hot pokers.My doctors wrote me prescriptions for some of the strongest painkillers available. I took Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin on a regular basis -- knowingly risking overdose just trying to make the pain bearable. But these powerful, expensive drugs brought me 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.All these heavy-duty narcotics made me almost incoherent. I couldn't take them when I had to work, because they turned me into a zombie. Worse, all of these drugs are highly addictive, and one thing I knew was that I didn't want to become a junkie. When someone suggested I try marijuana, I was skeptical -- but desperate. To my amazement, it worked when these other legal drugs failed. Three puffs and within minutes the excruciating pain in my legs subsided. I had my first restful sleep in months.I am not alone. A new study from the University of California, published Feb. 13 in the highly regarded medical journal Neurology, leaves no doubt about that. You see, people with MS suffer from a particular type of pain called neuropathic pain -- pain caused by damage to the nerves. It's common in MS, but also in many other illnesses, including diabetes and HIV/AIDS. It's typically a burning or stabbing sensation, and conventional pain drugs don't help much, whatever the specific illness.The new study, conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams, looked at neuropathic pain in HIV/AIDS patients. About one-third of people with HIV eventually suffer this kind of pain, and there are no FDA-approved treatments. For some, it gets so bad that they can't walk. This was what is known as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the "gold standard" of medical research. And marijuana worked.The very first marijuana cigarette reduced the pain by an average of 72 percent, without serious side effects. What makes this even more impressive is that U.S. researchers studying marijuana are required to use marijuana supplied by the federal government -- marijuana that is famous for being weak and of poor quality. So there is every reason to believe that studies such as this one underestimate the potential relief that high-quality marijuana could provide.Medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country -- less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real -- have experienced the same thing.The U.S. government knows marijuana works as a medicine. Our government actually provides medical marijuana each month to five patients in a program that started about 25 years ago but was closed to new patients in 1992. One of the patients in that program, Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld, was a guest on my show two years ago.But 38 states -- including Connecticut -- still subject patients with illnesses such as MS, cancer or HIV/AIDS to arrest and jail for using medical marijuana, even if their doctor has recommended it. It's long past time for that to change.Here in Connecticut, a bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to protect patients like me from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana when it's recommended by a doctor.Similar laws are working well in 12 states right now, with New Mexico passing its law just a few months ago. These laws work, Governor. And public safety has not been an issue --according to professor Mitch Earlywine at the State University of New York, states with medical marijuana laws have actually seen a decrease in marijuana use by adolescents.Governor, this bill deserves your support. Sick people shouldn't be treated as criminals.Sincerely yours,Montel Williams Editor's note: Connecticut may become the 13th state in the country to permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. After legislation was passed in the state legislature this month, it is now up to Gov. M. Jodi Rell. What follows is a letter of support from Montel Williams.Complete Title: MS Sufferer Montel Williams Makes the Case for Medical PotSource: AlterNet (US)Author: Montel Williams Published: June 13, 2007Copyright: 2007 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Articles: Legislators Oppose Legalizing Medical Marijuana Law in Connecticut Gains Ground Should Settle Debate Regarding Marijuana
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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on June 13, 2007 at 23:41:15 PT
"But 38 states -- including Connecticut -- still subject patients with illnesses such as MS, cancer or HIV/AIDS to arrest and jail for using medical marijuana, even if their doctor has recommended it. It's long past time for that to change."50-49-48-47-46-45-44-43-42-41-40-39-38...Good strategy. Shame on the laggards who punish their ill people. Shame.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on June 13, 2007 at 09:30:08 PT
Yes he really doesn't look very well but is it because we know how sick he is? I think he now has cancer of the stomach. 
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Comment #9 posted by Dankhank on June 13, 2007 at 09:20:06 PT
Snow ...
looks sick to me ...spouse and I remarked yesterday that his makeup wasn't working, apparently, and he looked kinda pasty ...
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Comment #8 posted by BGreen on June 13, 2007 at 08:52:58 PT
Looking sick
I can show you thousands of people who live in this area of the country who look sicker than crap only because of their horrendous diet of processed and fast food.These people aren't technically "sick," but they look it and are most definitely headed for an early grave.I can show you thousands of people that look pitiful and miserable, yet they have no known or diagnosed diseases. Their sickness exists, at least for most of them, in their heads. They use their hypochondria to illicit sympathy and attention.I can also show you dying people who look great. They refuse to give up. They refuse to convey their pain to the rest of us. They continue to live their lives with the same vitality as they always have.Many of these in the last group use cannabis, and that is NOT a coincidence.The medical profession in the USA has been hijacked by politicians, law enforcement and profiteers, and that's why I no longer trust any of them.If I don't take what they have to offer instead of cannabis, I could face prison. If I take what they have to offer instead of cannabis, they'll kill me.That is an absolutely unreasonable choice for a free citizen of a free country to have to make.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 13, 2007 at 08:29:54 PT
Looking Sick
I know that Tony Snow is sick but he doesn't look sick really. He is thin but he was always thin. Appearance doesn't mean anything when health issues are concerned. Even Elizabeth Edwards doesn't look as sick as she really is. 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on June 13, 2007 at 08:24:09 PT
comment 4
Sam, I noticed that, too. All the dangerous "nannies" and busybodies we have watching that don't want people to use cannabis, need to look at that, carefully, and see if they can absorb that information, somehow. They're skulls seem exceptionally dense though...and they LOOK so normal...sort of.People don't always LOOK sick. Most people try not to go around "looking" sick, even when they are. Healthy "looking" people drop dead everyday. The idiocy of those creeps hanging around the med pot places deciding if someone "looks" sick to them, is so totally makes me spitting mad.How dare they be so ludicrously dense and obtuse?Dang.
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Comment #5 posted by dongenero on June 13, 2007 at 08:00:19 PT
Montel does a great job
He is high profile. He writes a great letter that structures his argument well. He is very thorough in the examples and studies he cites.Well done Montel. You make a difference.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on June 13, 2007 at 07:56:24 PT
side comment
I like Montel's point that he LOOKS healthy. Many, if not most, chronically ill people look healthy. That's why the media and govt. and other citizens need to BUTT OUT of people's lives and let them take care of themselves. We have no business prying into people's lives that are picking up their meds at Walgreens. This is why the drug war exists, to enable the government to poke it's snout into your personal life & control it. 
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on June 13, 2007 at 07:45:31 PT
A Voice.
In my small housewifey way I felt I have had to be a voice, although it be tiny, squeaky, and barely heard voice, for people who were being abused and treated with heinous injustice, and had no voice to be heard in their defense at all.Montel has a voice that can be heard...although it's ignored, mostly, too.But he can be heard in what he's saying, occasionaly, and I'm so thankful that MS patients and others finally have a voice that a few people can hear.We're not just talking about them being able to be free people to use a natural plant for medicine...we're talking about stopping government agents from harming them, perhaps even murdering them, because they use the herb. It's the medicine...but more than even's stopping a perverted, overgrown, hateful, dangerous government from harming people because of it.Montel's illness can result in some good, as in "All things work to the good of them that love God."...because it made him know...and it made him speak up and he gave a voice to the many who were crying out and no one would hear them.All these hardships, perhaps, are helping build a strong bridge to a better life for so many people.I certainly hope so.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on June 13, 2007 at 07:17:57 PT
look at the numbers
If and when NY comes on board that will mean over 80 million people will reside in medical cannabis states with a total of 151 electoral votes (270 electoral votes are needed to win), without even counting Connecticut. NY and California are the anchor states on each coast. The wise politician will not want to be caught on the wrong side of this issue.
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Comment #1 posted by OverwhelmSam on June 13, 2007 at 06:43:42 PT
Great Letter Montel!
It looks like Jodi Rell got the full Monty.
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