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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 www.mpp.org.
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.
Having just emerged from one of the most epic experiences of my life, I'd like to share a few thoughts before returning to my usual news-skewering routine. Don't worry, it's about drug policy, although I'm proud to say I did manage to go an entire week without thinking about the drug war much at all.
Let's just say the outcome is substantially more graceful and orderly than even my own wide-open mind could have anticipated. I've seen far more sloppiness and idiocy at any football game I've ever attended than I did at Burning Man, even after dark when the serious weirdos really get down to business. Not even an abundance of liquid acid can unravel the inherent civility that takes hold when an intentional community of caring and curious people unites to celebrate free-expression on its own terms.
No major festival is entirely immune to the disruptive influence of individual trouble-makers, but Burning Man has established an impressive track record of general safety and cohesion going back many years now. It's a brilliant exhibit in the viability of expanding the boundaries of acceptable human behavior, particularly insofar as anyone who doesn't want to see naked people driving around in fire-breathing dragon-cars can simply choose not to attend.
The whole experience for me became yet another reminder of the profound stupidity of attempting to purge the psychedelic experience from our culture. If the paranoid fulminations of the anti-drug demagogues even approached the truth, an event such as this could never exist, for the playa would be soaked in blood and tears before the first sunrise. Once it's understood that the post-legalization drug apocalypse we've been taught to fear for so long is nothing more than a mindless fantasy, the justification for war evaporates faster than sweat under the desert sun.