JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Montel Williams, the venerated talk show host and radio personality, descended on the Missouri Capitol today with a film crew in tow to encourage lawmakers to embrace legislation legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes.
Williams suffers from multiple sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system that can be accompanied by a wide range of symptoms. Williams has been open with the public for more than 14 years about his diagnosis and how marijuana has helped relieve his symptoms. Williams’ daughter has also used medical marijuana to treat her lymphoma.
Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, is sponsoring HB 800, the “Missouri Compassionate Care Act,” which would permit and establish a regulatory framework for the growing and distribution of marijuana for qualifying medicial patients. It’s Hinson’s bill — the first full blown attempt to permit medical marijuana ever filed by a Republican — that drew Williams to the state.
“I’ve been involved in over 14 of the states that have passed medical cannabis laws in this country in the last 14 years because I suffer from MS, it’s the only thing that has given me relief from some of my symptoms,” Williams said. “As I go around the country trying to lobby for medical cannabis, it’s honestly been — not hijacked — but turned into something else. It’s been turned into ‘selling weed’ around America.”
Williams said that he viewed the issue at least in part as an equal rights fight.
“I will continue to lobby every state in this country to implement a medical cannabis law and distribution system,” Williams said. “Because I have a right to the same level of efficacy of treatment of my medication as you do if you go get a Vicodin.”
Williams arrived in the Capitol with a handful of lobbyists and legal experts and a small film crew. Williams told The Missouri Times that he intends to return to the state multiple times, including next Monday for Hinson’s hearing, with his film crew to produce a full-length documentary next fall about the efforts to legalize medical cannabis.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.