JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) – Talk show host Montel Williams testified before a Missouri house committee in support of medical marijuana Monday. Williams' personal journey with multiple sclerosis led him to become a user and advocate for medical marijuana after years of trying to get symptom relief with traditional therapies.
He is not advocating marijuana for recreational purposes, but wants a well-regulated system where severely ill patients have safe access to it upon recommendation of their state-licensed doctor.
Williams testified before the House Emerging Issues committee.
By the time it was his turn to speak, he was in the throes of the same excruciating foot pain he first felt years ago on his way to an acting job: a guest starring role in the TV series "Touched by an Angel".
The former Marine and Naval Academy graduate – turned talk show host was in tears at times.
He’d traveled far and had been waiting nearly 4 hours in the hearing room.
He described his feet feeling as if they were on fire.
“The second I let my brain feel this, this is what it does to me,” he said fighting tears.
“I’m hurting right now,” he said minutes later in an interview with FOX 2. “Whew!”
He said part of the problem was that his appearance at the capital made him late for his medications for MS and the fact he was in Missouri meant he couldn’t use the one that was most effective: medical marijuana.
House Bill 800 from Republican State Rep. Dave Hinson of St. Clair would allow people suffering from debilitating medical conditions, like MS, Crohn’s Disease, and ALS, to use marijuana.
The bill would allow up to 30 dispensaries and 30 cultivation centers statewide. It would require criminal background checks for licensees. It would also require that marijuana establishments be at least 1,000 feet from schools and day care centers.
Tom Mundell, of Bridgeton, a past state commander of the VFW, spoke publicly for the first time of his own use of marijuana for relief of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
At least one member of the committee was moved to tears as Mundell spoke.
Linda Pevnick of west county also spoke in support along with about 10 others. She said her 28-year-old son, who was pursuing a doctorate degree until diagnosed 5 years ago, was so debilitated by Crohn’s that he only left the house for doctor’s appointments.
Only a couple of people spoke in opposition to the bill.
He said he was down to 3 pills per day from 71, since using marijuana.
There was no vote from the committee Monday night.
Williams said he was willing to return to Missouri to speak to both lawmakers and constituents to help pass the bill by the end of the legislative session.
If passed by then, it could become law in August.