Montel Williams Says Marijuana Has Saved His Life

By Britni de la Cretaz 05/02/17

In a new interview, Williams opens up about battling MS, becoming a potrepreneur and marijuana legalization.

Montel Williams

Montel Williams continues to be a fierce advocate for medical marijuana. In a new interview with Business Insider, he talks about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, and how cannabis has, quite literally, saved his life. Cannabis "helps me to function," Williams said.

The 60-year-old entertainer, best known for hosting The Montel Williams Show—as the first African-American man to host his own syndicated talk show—says that he hid his diagnosis for as long as he could, until he was forced to reveal it on-air by a tabloid that threatened to out him first. Williams told Oprah in 2009 that he would cry backstage between guest interviews as a way to cope with the pain of his disease.

MS is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system, causing problems with balance, vision, and muscle control, among other things. After he tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a taxi, he discovered kief, a fine powder made from the dried resin glands of marijuana, which he now uses to manage his mood. He says he prefers to vaporize concentrated forms of the plant. Cannabis is known to be incredibly effective in helping people with MS manage their symptoms including pain, gastrointestinal distress, paralysis and muscle spasms.

Williams has since launched his own medical marijuana company, called Lenitiv Labs. Its user-friendly products are available in over 30 dispensaries in California. Twenty-nine states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana and 13 more have pending legislation in 2017.

Last month, Williams' company Lenitiv Labs launched a line of medical marijuana products that don’t contain any chemical solvents or artificial additives. Giving proper attention to the needs of medical marijuana patients is very important to Williams who is concerned that, in the rush to make money off marijuana, patients are being forgotten about.

"This industry has gotten so caught up in making money, they forgot they're leaving patients on the battlefield," Williams said. He says that since states began to legalize marijuana for recreational use, sugary, weed-laced junk food has dominated dispensaries.

"They're putting all kinds of junk in there," he said. "And I say, 'Really? That's medicine?'"

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.