Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Author: Montel Williams
Published: May 30, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Daily News, L.P.
Contact: [email protected]
New York -- You may know me as a television talk show host, but here in
New York I am a criminal. My crime? Using the medicine that has allowed
me to live a normal life despite having multiple sclerosis: medical
It does society no good to treat patients like me - simply trying to
live well and be productive citizens in the face of terrible illness -
as criminals. And threatening sick people with jail does not make New
York a better place.
When you see me on TV, you can't see the mind-numbing pain searing
through my legs like hot pokers. The strongest painkillers available -
Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin and even morphine - brought me no relief. I
couldn't sleep, my legs kicked involuntarily in bed and the pain was so
bad I found myself crying in the middle of the night. All these
heavy-duty narcotics made me nearly incoherent, turning me into a
zombie. And all are highly addictive.
I spiraled deeper into a black hole of depression. It was so bad that I
twice attempted to end my life.
Finally, someone suggested that smoking marijuana before going to bed
might help me sleep. Skeptical but desperate, I tried it. Three puffs
and within minutes, the excruciating pain in my legs subsided. I had my
first restful sleep in months.
Federal law classifies marijuana as unsuitable for use even under
medical supervision. But 99% of marijuana arrests are made by state and
local police under state law. States can decide not to arrest medical
Ten states have already done so.
New York now has an excellent chance to legalize medical marijuana. Two
identical bills in the Senate and Assembly are likely to be passed by
the Legislature. Then, they'll go to Gov. Pataki. The decision will rest
upon the governor's shoulders to legalize medical marijuana, which has
the backing of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau as well as
organizations like the American Public Health Association, American
Nurses Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York and the
New York State Association of County Health Officials.
I am still alive and living a productive, fruitful life because of
medical marijuana. I'm not alone. There are thousands more like me,
struggling for our lives and dignity against serious illness and we
should not be treated as criminals.
New York's medical marijuana bill deserves immediate passage.
Williams, a television talk show host, is the author of "Climbing
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