Montel Williams (search), who's in year five of his battle against multiple sclerosis, has moved his now-trademark campaign for legal, medicinal pot to Albany.
The talk show host — who uses marijuana daily to curtail pain — met this week with New York's Gov. George Pataki (search) in hopes he could change the governor's mind about state laws that (technically, at least) make a lawbreaker of Montel every night.
"Gov. Pataki asked a lot of questions," Williams said. "He stated unequivocally that he's going to take a very serious look at the issue and . . . legislation."
"Our talk was scheduled for 15 minutes and ended up being an hour," Williams said. (The two met earlier this year, along with several other lawmakers, for the same purpose.)
A spokesman for Pataki yesterday said the meeting had been "informative" but said the governor has not yet been won over.
"Nothing should be done to encourage illicit drug use," the spokesman said. "But we have asked Health Department professionals to continue to look at this issue."
Even if Montel did not walk away with the endorsement he's hoped for, the meeting was another milestone in the cause that has begun to consume him.
On Tuesday, Montel had set up an on-air debate on his daily show between opponents and advocates of medical marijuana.
"One of the myths surrounding marijuana since 1937 is that it has no redeemable efficacy as a medicinal agent — and that's a bold lie," he said. "The government has known for over 25 years that this isn't true.
"On Tuesday's show you're going to meet a [chronically ill] man from Florida named Irvin who's been receiving canisters of pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes from the government every single month for 20 years."
Williams said the marijuana has been sent to people suffering from AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
"The marijuana is grown in a government program at the University of Mississippi (search) and was being shipped to 12 people, five of whom have passed away," he said.
"This is the same government that claims marijuana doesn't work medicinally — yet has done a 25-year study and continues to deliver [marijuana] to these patients.
"The government obviously believes it has some benefit."
Nine states — not including New York — have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. But it is a legal gray area since federal law still prohibits the cultivation and consumption of pot..
"We claim to be a compassionate society — we should at least try to allow those of us suffering in pain to be pain-free," Williams said.