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Montel Williams's Pot Pipe Bust Shows That Patients are Still Targeted in the War on Marijuana

In case Montel Williams wasn't already sufficiently pissed off about the government's war on his medicine, yesterday's incident is sure to push him over the edge.

TV celebrity Montel Williams was cited at Mitchell International Airport on Tuesday for carrying a pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana, the Milwaukee County sheriff's office reported.

Williams, 54, was issued the citation for possession of drug paraphernalia after being caught with the pipe by Transportation Security Administration agents while going through a security checkpoint, a news release from the sheriff's office says.

Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, has advocated for the legalization of marijuana for medical use and has said he uses the drug to ease the effects of his condition. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Having twice had the opportunity to see Montel discuss his personal experience with medical cannabis and vehement disgust with the drug war's continued assault on seriously ill patients like himself, I would strongly urge drug warriors everywhere to leave him the hell alone. He is honestly one of the loudest and most passionate speakers I've ever seen on this topic. This guy built a career on manufacturing melodrama, so you can imagine how intense he gets when he's in pain and the government continues to prohibit the medicine he needs.

The story isn't likely to make major headlines, given that his medical marijuana use was already widely known, but there's a lesson here that I hope won't be entirely ignored. Montel Williams, despite his celebrity status, wasn't immune to the routine and government-approved harassment that medical marijuana patients continue to endure all around the country. What happened to Montel yesterday happens everyday to sick people in America, and very few of them possess the name-recognition to ensure fair treatment or the resources to rebound from the potentially severe legal consequences of a drug conviction.

While much progress has been made, the war on medical marijuana is far from over, and its worst victims are inevitably those whose medical needs are the greatest. If laws protecting medical patients sometimes become a loophole for recreational users, that concerns me far less than the very real and repeatedly-demonstrated reality that aggressive marijuana enforcement continuously results in the vicious persecution of those who are truly sick. These people deserve compassion and respect instead of handcuffs and a criminal record.

The first step is for President Obama to move beyond saying that the war on medical marijuana is a "poor use of resources" and instead admit that harassing seriously ill patients and their providers is just plain wrong.

Montel Williams Cited for His Medical Marijuana Pipe

Milwaukee, WI
United States
Williams was caught by TSA with his medical marijuana pipe while going through a security checkpoint. He paid the citation of $484 and was released to resume his travel plans. Williams suffers from multiple sclerosis and is a prominent advocate for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The 700 Club's Pat Roberston Supports Ending Cannabis Prohibition In An Effort To Get 'Smart On Crime'

Televangelist and former Baptist minister Pat Robertson makes a cogent argument on alternatives to arresting and incarcerating citizens who use drugs, with a clear emphasis on legalizing the possession of a few ounces of cannabis.

Why Willie Nelson Needs to Host a Benefit Concert for Marijuana

Willie Nelson has long been an outspoken activist, so it was no big surprise that soon after his recent arrest for marijuana possession the country music legend and pot aficionado was calling for a national movement to end the U.S. government’s destructive crusade against cannabis. But if Nelson wants to help end pot prohibition, he can do more than inspire the push for reform -- he can help lead it. And one relatively easy way he can do so is by hosting a benefit concert next year to draw attention to the evils of the drug war, using his iconic pop culture status to raise money for those organizations and people that are working to make the dream of reform a reality. A benefit concert next year would be particularly well timed, with the question of whether to legalize pot possibly being put to Washingtonians as soon as next fall and with California and Colorado voters likely weighing in on ballot initiatives of their own in 2012.
Publication/Source: (DC)

Montel Williams To Illinois Lawmakers: Pass Medical Marijuana Bill Now (Press Release)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

NOVEMBER 29, 2010

Montel Williams To Illinois Lawmakers: Pass Medical Marijuana Bill Now

Former Talk Show Host and Multiple Sclerosis Patient Will Meet Tomorrow With State House Members to Urge Passage of SB 1381 

CONTACT: Karen O’Keefe: 703-863-8471 or Mike Meno: 202-905-2030 or

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS — Former talk show host, U.S. Navy officer, and multiple sclerosis patient Montel Williams will meet with members of the Illinois House of Representatives tomorrow to urge them to vote in favor of SB 1381, a bill that would make Illinois the 16th state in the nation to allow chronically ill patients to use marijuana with the recommendation of their doctor. The Senate passed the bill – which would create one of the tightest regulated medical marijuana programs in the country – last year.

         Mr. Williams suffers from multiple sclerosis, and uses medical marijuana to help ease the effects of his condition. “Illinois lawmakers should act without delay to make marijuana legally available for medical use,” Williams said. “Every day that they delay is another one of needless suffering for patients like me all across the state. Fifteen other states have already passed medical marijuana laws, and Illinois’s lawmakers now have an opportunity to ensure that those suffering in their state will be treated with the same compassionate care.” 

            Sixty-eight percent of Illinois voters favor allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor recommends it, according to a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll. On Jan. 3, Gov. Quinn told the Associated Press, “People who are seriously ill deserve access to all medical treatments that will help them fight their illness and recover.”

            Since 1996, 15 states and Washington, D.C., have passed medical marijuana laws, and more than a dozen others considered such laws in 2010. The most recent was Arizona, where voters approved a medical marijuana law earlier this month.

            Under SB 1381, qualified patients could obtain medical marijuana from state-licensed organizations regulated by the state health department, which would also issue medical marijuana ID cards to patients who receive a recommendation from their doctor. Public use of marijuana and driving under the influence would be prohibited. In Illinois, the bill is supported by the Illinois Nurses Association, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Protestants for the Common Good, the Jewish Political Alliance of Illinois, and Illinois public health advocate and physician to the governor, Dr. Quentin Young. Nationally, the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many other esteemed health organizations have endorsed the medical efficacy of marijuana.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit


United States

London Exhibit Examines Centuries of Drug History

United Kingdom
"High Society," an exhibition opening today at London's Wellcome Collection museum, examines the history of opium, from pre-biblical practices to today's entire prohibitionist drug market, which is worth an estimated $320 billion per year, according to the United Nations. One of the aims of the exhibit is to de-stigmatize today's illegal drugs and show there is more to the subject than visitors may have thought. After all, substances that many people ingest freely today — alcohol, caffeine and tobacco — have all been criminalized in years past or are still illegal in some parts of the world.
The Associated Press

The Writing on the Wall: Calendar Portrays America's Longest War

It's easy to say and easy to document, but quite difficult to really internalize, the human suffering and the outright absurdities wrought by our 40-year-old war on drugs. Sometimes it takes a picture to drive the point home. The Drug Policy Alliance has teamed up with award-winning artist Ricardo Cortes to produce an engaging, eye-catching 2011 wall calendar about the history of drug prohibition in the United States.
Alternet (CA)

Bring on Prop. 19: Stars Who Want Their Marijuana Legal

United States
Proposition 19 would make California the first state to legalize marijuana, and plenty of celebrities have voiced their support.
Los Angeles Times (CA)

High Time? Websites Give Cannabis a Classy New Look

As state medical marijuana laws push marijuana closer to Main Street, a few websites are starting to give it an updated, more understated image aimed at mainstream marijuana lovers outside the prototypical "stoner" demographic.
ABC News (US)

Bill Bennett Blames 'Weeds' for Increasing Marijuana Use

Michael Whitney at FDL points out the latest crazy rant from former drug czar Bill Bennett, who co-authored a CNN piece today blaming drug use on everything and everyone except the people who choose to consume intoxicants.What begins, predictably, with an attack on the Obama Administration for failing to obsess over the latest drug use statistics soon nosedives into an absurd attack against popular television for failing to depict all drug use as profoundly unpleasant:

As for the popular culture, the message has been even more damaging. Where once television shows actively promoted the dangers of drug use, several of our more popular shows, from "Weeds" to "Entourage" to "Mad Men," make drug use a laugh line.

Back when our country was making a serious assault on drug abuse, a show like "Weeds" would never be aired. Today it is promoted in full page ads in our nation's most popular magazines. This, for a comedy about the life and times of a marijuana-growing and -dealing family.

With all this, it should be no real surprise the drug numbers are on the increase. Our national leaders are silent, our culture makes laugh lines of drug use and serious numbers of serious people are advocating further legalization.

So what then shall we do about all these "serious people" hell-bent on drugging American culture into oblivion? Clearly, this is a job for Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers:

We should see public service announcements and ads from the likes of Beyonce, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, the Jonas Brothers; from the likes of the Williams Sisters and the Manning brothers; from Jimmy Johnson and Danika Patrick.

Sadly, 90% of the work that went to into drafting the op-ed was spent identifying this embarrassingly short list of allegedly drug-free celebrities, and they still somehow forgot to include Stephen Baldwin. I would also caution against the potential consequences of suggesting to young people that avoiding pot could cause them be more like the Jonas Brothers.

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