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Medical Marijuana in New York? Yes

Talk show host tokes up for MS


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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 marijuana.

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 marijuana patients.

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 Higher."

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