Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jun 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Casey Seiler


Former Talk Show Host Montel Williams Says Treatment Helps His MS

ALBANY -- Former talk-show host Montel Williams visited the Capitol to
support a medical marijuana bill moving through the

Williams discussed his own experience since he began grappling with
multiple sclerosis a decade ago, joined by Manhattan Assemblyman
Richard Gottfried, a prime sponsor of the state measure.

Medical marijuana "changed my life -- it allowed me to have my life
back," said Williams, who shows few visible signs of the degenerative
condition except for a slight wobble in his stride. He said that many
days use of marijuana suppresses his pain enough to allow him to "get
out of bed, go to work and pay my taxes."

New York would be the 15th state to pass some form of legalization.
"It's a little late, but at least we'll get it done," Williams said,
adding that he's promoted the effort in nine states.

"New York got it right," Williams said of the bill, which would make
pharmacies the distributors of the new form of medication. It would
also tightly restrict the number of conditions for which people would
be eligible for treatment. The bill language specifies "a severe
debilitating or life-threatening condition, or a condition associated
with or a complication of such a condition or its treatment (including
but not limited to inability to tolerate food, nausea, vomiting,
dysphoria or pain)."

In comparison, California's treatable ailments include anorexia and
migraine as well as many other chronic and debilitating conditions.

Gottfried called New York's bill "the narrowest and most restrictive
medical marijuana law in the country." He said it would be
"extraordinarily cruel" for the state to go another year without
passing the measure, which has been approved by the Assembly multiple
times and is currently before the Senate Rules Committee.

"This is not about a bunch of potheads -- that's not going to happen
here," said Williams, who noted that although he lives in New York he
is a registered participant in California's program because his
corporation is chartered in the Golden State.

So how does his medication get here? "Somehow, it's like the Tooth
Fairy -- it arrives in New York," he said.

The legislation is backed by the state Pharmacists Society, whose
Executive Director Craig Burridge appeared at the Capitol with
Williams, Burridge noted that his wife was suffering from lung cancer
- -- a condition that could be ameliorated by medical marijuana.

"The patient comes first," Burridge said.

The bill is opposed by groups such as the state Society of Addiction
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake