Montel Williams pushing medical marijuana

June 30, 2004

Aparna H. Kumar, Seattle Post Intelligencer

WASHINGTON -- Fresh off the set of the upcoming reality series 'American Candidate,' TV host Montel Williams was pushing a more personal cause Thursday at the U.S. Capitol: medical marijuana.

The erstwhile host of the 'Montel Williams Show' beseeched young congressional staffers and interns to pester their bosses to make marijuana more widely available to chronic pain sufferers.

'Go back and start looking it up yourself and understand why it is your bosses are voting against something that will do nothing but help people,' pleaded Williams, who has taken marijuana to ease pain since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999.

Williams alternately choked back tears and raised his voice in pained frustration while seeking support for a bill by Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., that would make it more difficult for the federal government to impede state medical marijuana laws.

'I suffer from a debilitating disease that 24 hours a day keeps me in pain,' he winced. 'I am in pain right now.'

Nine states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - allow sick patients to smoke marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Williams will host the Showtime series 'American Candidate,' in which a dozen contestants will run in a mock election to become the next president. It airs beginning in August.

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