The address, which included an announcement that Williams is starting his own cannabis company under the name LenitivLabs, was included as part of the Los Angeles leg of the business convention. During the presentation, Williams — who has suffered from the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis for 16 years — walked back and forth through the rows of seats explaining his own path towards medical cannabis.
“Right now there are times where I can consume up to 600 milligrams in a day and walk in here and give a speech,” he said. “I’ve already consumed probably about 150-200 maybe about 220 this morning and I won’t need a note at all. And why? Because the truth of the matter is when you look at cannabinoids and you understand what this is really about, this is, truly folks, a medication.”
Williams explained that when he was first diagnosed with the neuropathic disorder that disrupts communication between the brain and several different body systems he was willing to do anything to mitigate the pain. When his doctor told him that he had a 10 to 15 percent decrease in life expectancy and would most certainly be in a wheelchair, he said he, “started believing in all this crap,” and took any and every medication he could acquire.
“I walked around for about a year and a half popping every opioid you can imagine and some that you can’t. I found every doctor I could find. Remember I am Montel the celebrity… I’m not going to blame [the doctors] because there are some people who need [opioids] for a very short period of time, but unfortunately when you start taking 12 and 13 oxycontin a day…” he said while taking his voice down to an emotional whisper, “you do body damage. And I’m still suffering today for my opioid use 16 years ago.”
His doctor at Harvard suggested medical marijuana had offered similar results to opioids in reducing, but never completely eliminating, pain sensation associated with MS. Williams told the CWCBE audience that while he may have shared a few puffs at a celebrity party, previous to his career in Hollywood he held the highest security clearance the nation has to offer as a special intelligence officer.
“I studied Russian. I was part of the Russian Bear Attack, held the highest clearances,” he said. “They tested us for drugs almost every five months before and post-deployment. I didn’t touch a drug for 22 years.”
Despite the rising number of states legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older, Williams fervently imparted the need to continue to provide products with the top health standards for medical use.
“For me, it is a medicine and a lifesaver,” he said when addressing the businesses on the convention floor below. “All of ya’ll are chomping at the bit for the recreational bill to pass. Just tell the truth. Nobody wants to actually have an open conversation and guys, please thank you for inviting me but I think it’s time that we have one just for a second. Listen to me, every person sitting in this room is sitting in here because of a patient. No, I’m not talking about the reason you started your business now, I’m talking about those that were in the trenches, fighting the fight, being dragged out of their houses in wheelchairs.”
Williams went on to further explore the present dichotomy in America of recreational and medical cannabis states.
“You can change your state law from medical to recreational and sell all you want, but skip the medical,” he said. “Now why will they be able to do that? They can do that because some of us in this industry don’t even understand that collectively we have to make sure that everything we produce is at the finest quality it can be so that patients don’t have to worry about being damaged by something you sell.”
He then outlined his stance further.
“I don’t have a problem if tomorrow the entire country goes recreational, you will see me standing in a room demanding a medical product for me and my peers,” he said. “If you just want to sell weed, sell weed, go have fun. Make a lot of money but I don’t want you giving that to my mother. My mother, let me tell you, right now has two types of cancer and glaucoma, has used Marinol. My mom’s not dabbing anything she’s 85 years old.
“A person like me who has doesn’t work on their illness with MS has zero dexterity – I’m not rolling a joint, I might burn my nose if I try to dab. Why can’t you give me something in every single store that I can walk in and look at and recognize it’s something I or my mother would be proud to put in our mouth.”
During the speech, Williams praised Melissa Etheridge, who also spoke at the two-day convention, for being a celebrity who is not afraid to put her face on the medicinal marijuana products she is selling.
“I’m putting my face right on the box so you know it’s me,” Williams said of his new product line.
Are you in a state where you are fighting to preserve medical marijuana? Tell us about your experiences below.