Montel Williams Talks About Medicinal Pot

OAKLAND — Emmy award-winning former talk show host Montel Williams was in town Tuesday for a second time seeking information about opening a medical cannabis facility here.

He met with Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who said Williams was interested in applying for one of the city’s pot permits to grow refined strains of medical cannabis that he uses to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1999. He has since become a vocal proponent of medical marijuana.

Williams did not respond to requests for comment. But in 2004, he promoted the benefits of medical cannabis on his popular “Montel Williams Show.”

He has said that medical marijuana has been more effective in treating the pain, depression and sleep disorders caused by the life-threatening, degenerative disease than pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to him.

Kaplan said that Williams visited in May and again Tuesday because he wants to open a facility to produce and research specific strains of medical cannabis.

Williams told CNN in 2009 that he has a medical marijuana ID card in two states. He has also publicly supported a recent bid to make medical marijuana legal to patients in New York, where he lives with his family. The New York bill would also put the distribution in the hands of pharmacies and define the ailments for which cannabis can be prescribed more narrowly than California laws.

Williams’ talk show ended in 2009. Hefounded the Living Well with Montel Health Association and Montel Williams MS Foundation. He became a spokesman for the pharmaceutical industry sponsored Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which helps low-income patients apply for free or reduced-priced prescription drugs.

His plans for the facility are indefinite in part because Oakland has yet to finalize plans to issue permits for growing medical marijuana, Kaplan said.

“But Oakland is definitely his first choice,” she said.

The City Council approved large-scale facilities last month but details are still being worked out, including permits for small- and medium-size growers.

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