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Montel Williams to Address New Jersey Lawmakers on Marijuana

Television personality Montel Williams plans to tell a New Jersey senate panel on Thursday how marijuana relieves his chronic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, and wil urge New Jersey lawmakers to enact medical marijuana laws as 11 other states already have done.

Williams, 49, who was diagnosed with MS seven years ago, said he turned to marijuana to relieve debilitating knee and foot pain after trying Oxycontin and a variety of other drugs to no avail.

Williams, a registered medical marijuana user in California, said he became an activist pushing for medical marijuana laws after being stopped at a Detroit airport by an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms officer for carrying drug paraphernalia. The charge later was dropped.

"For me, marijuana eases the pain in my feet — on a scale of 1 to 10, brings it from a 6 down to a 4 and keeps it there — makes it manageable so I can deal with the rest of my day," said Williams. "Why should it not be available?"

Williams also plans to speak Wednesday at a Drug Policy Alliance-sponsored news conference supporting the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. He said he was also hoping to discuss the issue with Gov. Jon S. Corzine, though the governor's office said as of Tuesday Williams hadn't requested a meeting.

Corzine said last year that he would sign a medical marijuana bill into law.

Reiterating the administration's position Tuesday, Corzine spokesman Anthony Coley said, "All individuals should receive the best possible medical care available. If a doctor prescribes medical marijuana, we should honor his or her judgment and do what is in the best interest of the patient."

The proposal would allow certain chronically ill patients to use marijuana medicinally by smoking it, eating it or taking it in tablets. The drug would be prescribed by a doctor and the program would be monitored by the state Health Department. Under the proposal, the amount of marijuana a patient would be allowed to possess would be capped at one ounce and patients would be issued cards identifying them as registered medical marijuana users.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, lists cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, wasting syndrome, chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and persistent muscle spasms as among the conditions eligible for medical marijuana usage.

Terrence P. Farley, an Ocean County assistant prosecutor and spokesman for two state law enforcement groups, told The Associated Press last month that the bill is a veiled attempt to legalize drugs.

"This is how they're trying to get marijuana legalized," said Farley, who also is director of the county anti-narcotics force.