Montel Wiliams is a US military veteran and TV legend most famous for his talk show The Montel Williams Show (Montel) that aired in syndication from 1991 to 2008. He's also well-known for his medical cannabis advocacy. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, Montel has been using cannabis to combat neuropathic pain from the disease for over 20 years. During that time, he has used his celebrity and resources to raise awareness around not only the disease, but also people's civil right to medicate with cannabis.
“Whether it be adult use or medical, I think everybody who gravitates to cannabis, even if they won't admit it themselves, has an underlying medical reason for gravitating towards [it] instead of alcohol and everything else,” he said during our recent Zoom interview.
Since retiring from Montel, Williams has been busy as ever. He currently hosts a show called Military Makeover with Montel, where he goes to the homes of deserving veterans and uses community outreach for home makeovers from the ground up, airing every Friday morning on Lifetime. He also hosts a second show called Military Makeover: Operation Career, in which companies who hire veterans are featured. In addition to television, he hosts two podcasts: Let's Be Blunt with Montel available on iHeartradio (or wherever you get your podcasts) and Free Thinking.
On celebrity treatment and the fight for Michael Thompson
If you Google Williams, you'll find stories of him being arrested for weed, but those stories are simply not true. “I was never really arrested. In Detroit, I was written a summons in the airport and let go. Two days later, the judge threw the entire thing out with prejudice. Same thing happened in Wisconsin. I was detained at the airport, let go three days later, then the judge threw it all out with prejudice. I was detained at the airport in Germany by Interpol, and on the spot, let go, and given back my cannabis to take with me on my trip. [I was] asked, 'Please don't smoke this in the airport.' So I have been detained; I'd rather talk about it that way rather than saying 'officially arrested,' because I really was not.”
Asked how he escaped Germany without issue, Williams said, “The Interpol was like, 'We just passed a law [in Germany] that makes cannabis legal in January. Please, I'm so sorry, I know who you are, I know what your advocacy is, I see you have a card and a doctor's permit, but we have not passed the law yet. You're not in Germany yet, you're in the airport, it's an international space. So please do not consume this here.' Would that have happened to me had I not been Montel? I'm not sure; literally one of the officers had Googled my name standing right there in front of me.”
In knowing the power of celebrity, Williams has been trying to use his resources in all areas of restorative justice. Most recently, in his work with the Michigan Cannabis Prisoner Relief Campaign. This campaign's goal is to raise funds and awareness for Michigan cannabis prisoners and their families. This is an effort stemming from a partnership with Montel Williams, Last Prisoner Project, Redemption Foundation, and The Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party. They've focused on the cases for Michigan's Michael Thompson, who was sentenced to 20 years for selling weed to a police informant, Rudi Gammo, who was sentenced to 5 and a half years for allowing his tenants to grow cannabis but are available for any-and-every prisoner still in jail for crimes that have since been legalized.
On how this work came about, Montel says “The Last Prisoner Project reached out to me and made me aware of Michael's situation when they found out that Michael tested positive for [COVID-19]. When I started looking into his case, it felt so ignorant that in a state where there are people now making money off of cannabis, how the heck can you keep a person in prison for doing less than the people who are doing it legally now? When you say you have to pay the price for what you've done, he's paid the price tenfold. He's been in prison for 20 years now. And then you have [Governor Gretchen Whitmer] that says she supports restorative justice but does nothing to prompt the parole board to do what they should've done months ago.”
Unfortunately, Michael Thompson and Rudi Gammo are still locked up. To support the Michigan Cannabis Prisoner Relief Campaign and their efforts to release those harmed by the dreaded War on Drugs, click here.
4 products Montel can't live without
Being such a long time cannabis consumer and advocate, it was only right that, in addition to his professional and social work, we discuss some of his favorite smokeables. Here are the four weed products that Montel Williams can't live without.
Asked about his consumption habits, Williams said, “I try to get at least 500 milligrams of CBD in my body per day, and I've noticed that my THC consumption has gone down. I haven't needed it as much to deal with some of my ongoing struggle with MS, though I continue to use it on a day-to-day basis.”
He prefers his own CBD products, which are available at montelwilliams.com.
“I want to always have a vape pen on call, just in case something is about to happen and I need to take it down a notch. That'll be part of my regimen until the day I'm no longer here.”
Williams loves a good hit of kief — he uses his pipe at least once a week. “I stopped consuming flower almost 20 years ago. I like the cleanliness of kief because it doesn't have some of the other deleterious parts of the plant mixed into it. You're guaranteed no stems, no sticks, no seeds. But at the same time, kief is probably the area of the plant that holds the most trichomes.”
Blue Dream + GSC kief
When asked about his favorite strains, Williams answered, “I was, and still am a GSC (formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies) and Blue Dream kief fan with the two of them mixed together. I do believe that cultivars have different ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes, and when you start mixing them together, you can find the combination that works for you.”
Image courtesy of Montel Williams. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps.