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Montel Williams Wants to Sell You Weed
June 17, 2011 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Montel Williams has announced a partnership to bring a high-end, deluxe medical marijuana dispensary to Sacramento, California. This is not the first time Williams has brought the issue of medical marijuana into the media spotlight, having put in previous public appearances to discuss his own firsthand experiences using medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of his multiple sclerosis. This latest venture puts Williams at the head of a growing list of celebrity marijuana legalization adocates, including Drew Carey, Justin Timberlake and others (this last link is possibly NSFW). But does all the Sturm und Drang around the issue of marijuana legalization really signal a changing political reality? Depending upon your perspective, the polls, at least, are starting to look pretty good.
posted by saulgoodman (52 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jimmy Carter had an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday calling for an end to the global drug war.
posted by jedicus at 10:54 AM on June 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”
I love this bit from Carter's commentary. Puts the problem brilliantly into perspective, I think.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


I read this as Montell Jordon and am now very sad.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”
Following this, the effort to eliminate drugs from our country should not be more damaging to the country than the use of the drugs themselves.
posted by grouse at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


I took a cruise last week. It is not really my sort of thing to do, so I took some time to do my research beforehand, to see what I was getting into. I read cruise message boards. These people are cruise fanatics. Go on several a year, in many cases.

It's a group that skews older--cruising isn't cheap--and, you would think, more conservative (cruising is a "safe" environment for not-really-exploring the world).

I opened a thread about a guy who had been busted with less than 7g of cannabis getting onto a cruise ship, expecting a shitstorm about the evils of the demon weed. Maybe one person derided him as a worthless doper, but the rest were mostly clucking at the foolishness of carrying while you're traveling with children. There were a number of calls for legalization. I was blown away.

Picture your idea of the "typical" cruisers--middle-aged midwesterners in aloha shirts carrying cameras they don't know how to use and stuffing their faces at buffets. These people want to legalize recreational cannabis.

Sounds good to me.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:15 AM on June 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


We already know what this argument comes down to in Canada: "the reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad." Harper has a gut feeling that legal pot dispensaries would be sleazy, so that's the end of the argument. It doesn't matter what you, celebrities, or cruise-going old people think. Because you're bad.
posted by Hoopo at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


(That probably sounded a bit more negative toward cruise enthusiasts than I meant it to sound. Sorry.)
posted by uncleozzy at 11:23 AM on June 17, 2011


There certainly is a lot of private money behind the campaign for legalization here in California...but for all the attention the pro-pot movement gets, I feel like actual legalization is still a long way off. I was pretty excited for prop 19 to potentially pass just last year...but alas it did not. Since then, the city of LA has cracked down on a lot of dispensaries...which you used to find on almost every block in some parts of town. And while pot is de-facto legal here in California, I often forget just how not the rest of America California is. Meanwhile in my hometown of Washington DC, the attitude towards pot is still as stigmatized as ever. It's still political suicide to advocate legal marijuana in DC...and even touchy here in LaLa land. My liberal family openly "worried" about me when I mentioned that, yes, I occasionally smoke pot - whereas here in California, literally, my EMPLOYER knows and doesn't care that most of its contractors smoke pot and sometimes even WORK high. In fact, the more creative you are, the more "no problem" it is that you use.

I often wonder if the current resurgence of Libertarianesque ideology finding roots in the Tea Party fringe will make palatable the "legalize drugs" attitude for the more conservative lot. Personally I still have a very hard time understanding just WHY conservative interests are sp against marijuana given the potential revenue it could generate and my cynical streak tells me that they haven't found a good enough way to make money from it yet. But if you ever wanted evidence that humans are not "rational actors" looks towards the ideological hand brake on possible millions made from marijuana legalization.

Either way, good God would I love the day when I could legally spark up an MJ Light (TM) before cleaning the apartment on a lazy summer weekend.
posted by jnnla at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the U.S. side [the War on Drugs] has created the largest prison population on earth, a standing army of agents, and, yet, after 40 years drugs are of higher quality, lower price, and more available than ever before. In Mexico, the current combat began in December 2006 when newly elected President Felipe Calderón unleashed the Mexican army against the Mexican people. Each wave of slaughter has been touted by the government as proof the cartels were weakening. The result of this triumph can be plainly seen in Juárez: 25 percent of the houses have been abandoned, 30,000 to 60,000 Mexicans have fled to neighboring El Paso, 10,000 businesses have closed, 500 to 900 gangs prowl the city, the highest murder rate on earth—200 per 100,000—has been achieved, at least 100,000 jobs have been lost and somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000 people have left the city.

The slaughter of three people affiliated with the U.S. consulate has briefly caused the international press to look at this disaster. But soon, their attention will wander and the city can get back to business as usual. And both governments can hum along with their War on Drugs.

posted by jcruelty at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Montel Williams has also endorsed a:

a$200 "health" blender

a set of five "Obama coins" that appeared to be normal coins with color stickers on them for twenty dollars plus shipping and handling.

payday loans

Montel's dispensary is probably going to actually dispense oregano at inflated prices. He's pretty revolting.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:35 AM on June 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, to be fair, the talk show host peddling sleazy wares circuit offers a pretty crowded field. Montel's downright respectable compared to a lot of his contemporaries.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2011


Montel Williams has also endorsed...

Meat is the new bread!
posted by Trurl at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2011


There's no question that things have changed. I've been working for legalization since around 1992, and if you'd told me back then that California would be voting on full legalization in 2010 -- much less that the bill would come within four points of passing -- I'd have laughed in your face. Opposing the drug war was nowhere close to a mainstream political option twenty years ago. It was not even part of the discussion. It's on the table now, and likely to remain that way: I won't be surprised if marijuana is legal in at least one state by 2020. Even if not, this map will look a lot more green...

I think MPP can in large part be thanked for this, along with the rise of the internet... and, of course, a whole lot of brave smokers and growers who've come out of the closet since the 90s. The more we refuse to treat marijuana as a shameful issue, the more public opinion will follow.
posted by vorfeed at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Following this, the effort to eliminate drugs from our country should not be more damaging to the country than the use of the drugs themselves.

I can't agree more, when you consider the unbelievably corrosive damage that the War on Drugs has done to this country; the unimaginable cost, the loss of civil liberties, the expansion of unchecked law-enforcement, the rise private for-profit corrections economies, the power it's put into the hands of criminals worldwide, and the ruination of many, many, many lives, I ask; what drug could be worse than this cure?

I can't say that every thing wrong with our country in some way comes back to this issue, but I'd be willing to argue that a lot of them do.
posted by quin at 11:53 AM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I often forget just how not the rest of America California is.

Yeah, I live in LA and the fact that pot is technically illegal is something I forget now and again.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:54 AM on June 17, 2011


“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

This appears to accept as a premise that there should be a penalty for private drug use. Bizarre.

Arguments to end the drug war are nice, but they sometimes sound like someone having an amazing revelation: "Maybe I should stop smashing my head against this here wall! Where's my Nobel Prize?"
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:57 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which is often followed by "No, no, that's too drastic - I'll just hit my head against the wall less vigorously."
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:57 AM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


This appears to accept as a premise that there should be a penalty for private drug use. Bizarre.

Yes, it is too bad some plants are against the law. It is a little-known fact that only a last-minute compromise between Madison and Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 prevented oak trees and turnips from being illegal.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


That makes perfect sense, though. Look what turnip use did to the English -- turned 'em into the Redcoat Menace!
posted by vorfeed at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2011


Sorry Montel. This doesn't make up for you shilling Sylvia Browne. There ain't that much weed in the world.
posted by Splunge at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hoopo: "We already know what this argument comes down to in Canada: "the reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad.""

And duh! They're bad, because they're illegal! That way we never have to think our way out of this circle. It's like NASCAR for political logic!
posted by symbioid at 12:45 PM on June 17, 2011


Jimmy Carter had an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday calling for an end to the global drug war


Lately, I catch myself wondering....if America had given Jimmy Carter a second term in 1980, rather than opting for Reagan, what would America look like today??
posted by spirit72 at 12:46 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


"You had your chance with Jimmy Carter, and you fucking blew it. So get fucked. Fucking country."
posted by enn at 12:50 PM on June 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


As someone who has been involved in all manner of drugs, either myself or through close family and friends, I can tell you the 'drug war' does absolutely nothing. My brother spent three years in prison for selling marijuana to a friend.

Does he still smoke? Of course he does. Now, however, he does it more privately. The drug war did rob him of three years of his young children's lives though.

Did marijuana ever effect them before that? No. Their dad going to prison, however, traumatized them.
posted by Malice at 12:58 PM on June 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Nation, too, is striking an optimistic tone on the subject.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2011


Montel Williams has also endorsed a $200 "health" blender

To be fair to Montel, that blender makes excellent oregano smoothies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2011


Montel Williams has also endorsed...

So what? He could have endorsed a slimming vibrator that plays Kenny G tunes for all I care. If the guy is using his celebrity to advocate something sensible and make it seem more normal and reasonable to the general public, then I am OK with that. Yes, he probably does intend intend to sell overpriced pot and make a profit out of it, much like fancy bars charge far more money for cocktails with silly names than I want to pay. Again, fine. Some people do want to pay for that sort of thing and it's no skin off my nose.

Part of why Prop. 19 didn't pass last year was because a bunch of small growers vocally opposed it on the grounds that the industry would be corrupted by big business. What this actually meant in practice was that they didn't want the competition and preferred the fat margins they get now from having it illegal for recreational use. I have no sympathy for this position. If the advocates of ending the drug war on the left would get over themselves and team up with the pro-business libertarians on the right (many of who are social liberals who also like to smoke pot) then this thing could probably be put to bed in a few years. It's not necessary to agree with them about everything else, such as tax policy or whatever. It's like people are worried about catching some ideological virus from others with whom they have some fundamental disagreements, which is just nonsense.

Rich famous guy is trying to give your cause a hand up? Then take him up on the offer before he changes his mind, FFS. You don't have to buy his overpriced blender and if other people are foolish enough to do that is not your problem.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:28 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


very hard time understanding just WHY conservative interests are sp against marijuana

Because in many places, cannabis is still perceived as a hippie and/or black person's drug. White people drink alcohol or abuse prescription narcotics, like God and Ronald Reagan intended.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:03 PM on June 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Regarding Mexico, I've been meaning to make a post about Javier Sicilia and his "Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity" but haven't had much time to research links. So I guess this will have to do.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many people has marijuana killed? How many people has tobacco killed? How many people has alcohol killed? Why aren't alcohol & tobacco illegal?
posted by mike3k at 2:44 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


[borrowing from a previous comment of mine]

"in 2008, alcohol tax revenue brought in $5.7 billion and cigarette taxes came to about $16.6 billion,"

To answer your question, alcohol and tobacco aren't illegal because they bring in a ton of money. Or more specifically, because they have employed fantastic lobbyists. Marijuana, on the other hand, never had this chance to become a socially acceptable, taxable item and now remains illegal mostly due to social inertia and the fact that it continues to be a pretty useful tool in repressing anyone those in power feel like keeping down.
posted by quin at 3:00 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Montel's downright respectable compared to a lot of his contemporaries.

That's not really fair: Montel's using whatever gravitas his show provided him in order to peddle rip-off crap, and you're saying Springer is worse for peddling DVDs of his own show? Say what you like about the quality of Springer's show, purchasers know what they're getting when they buy the DVD.
posted by orthogonality at 3:15 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think MPP can in large part be thanked for this

If it really were the MPP's influence, wouldn't smoking spliffs and harassing women who work for you be legalized?
posted by orthogonality at 3:21 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget the other crap Williams has supported over the years. For this alone, he should burn in hell.
posted by dbiedny at 4:36 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jerry Springer is the Dalai Lama compared to Montel.
posted by Splunge at 4:48 PM on June 17, 2011


In defense of Montel, he has consistently been willing to use his celebrity and media access to draw attention to the need for legal medical access to cannabis. He's traveled around the country, held press conferences, and testified in multiple state houses for bills. Most recently, I think, he testified in New Jersey. He shows up when he's asked to show up. It's a personal issue for him, of course, and he talks about how much it's helped his health.

I don't actually know if he's ever spoken on legalization either way. It's not something he's actively campaigning on.

I will say that the dispensary he's partnering with has a very mixed reputation in California. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:03 PM on June 17, 2011


There are lots of sensible reasons to be "anti-drug" in the sense of believing that intoxicants are a bad idea. Certain people have difficulty understanding how one can be anti-drug and pro-legalization without appearing "off-message".
posted by LogicalDash at 5:22 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are al lot of sensible reasons to be "anti-Montel" in the sense that pushing psychics can be bad for the poor people reaching out for one shred of hope that their dead relatives are still alive. Some people don't have the mental or emotional wherewithal to separate fact from fiction when they are raised in a religious voodoo culture and will essentially accept anything peddled by charlatans and their enablers.
posted by Splunge at 7:28 PM on June 17, 2011


Sorry. That wasn't a dig at you, LogicalDash. It just seemed like a jumping off point. Your point was spot on.
posted by Splunge at 7:30 PM on June 17, 2011


MPP was a damn good album, but do you really think it got that many people to start smoking weed?



B-)
posted by defenestration at 8:08 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's not really fair: Montel's using whatever gravitas his show provided him in order to peddle rip-off crap, and you're saying Springer is worse for peddling DVDs of his own show? Say what you like about the quality of Springer's show, purchasers know what they're getting when they buy the DVD.

What difference does it make that Montel's actual show itself wasn't quite as repugnant and self-evidently a sham as Springer's? So what if Montel has pitched some sleazy products on the side? What talk show host doesn't? Oprah pitched The Secret and discouraged parents from vaccinating their kids, and yet, she still clearly sits at the pinnacle of the moral pyramid of the talk show host crowd (such that it is). The Springer show's brand of prurient cynicism and low-culture voyeurism is a sleazy, dehumanizing product to start with, never mind whatever wares he might be hawking on the side.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:27 AM on June 18, 2011


I often forget just how not the rest of America California is.

California has the death penalty and spends more on prisons than it does on universities. You cannot get more "American."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:08 AM on June 18, 2011


California has the death penalty and spends more on prisons than it does on universities. You cannot get more "American."

I thought pretty well all Americans think its OK if they themselves do drugs -- they just don't want black people using them?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:43 AM on June 18, 2011


Americans think that the drugs that we personally do are fine and should be legal, but the drugs that other people do, especially if those other people happen to be people of color, are bad and evil and those people should suffer for using them.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:13 PM on June 18, 2011


White, non-rich people get punished for doing drugs as well. These assessments really aren't accurate.

Rich white people get away with anything.

Or rather, rich people get away with anything, but rich people are usually white because of (etc etc) - but still, if your rich, your race probably won't effect you much.
posted by Malice at 3:48 PM on June 18, 2011


your? You're* - Wow, that's a rare mistake. I hate that.
posted by Malice at 3:48 PM on June 18, 2011


Legalization of marijuana in California is something that's been around a long damn time, and by long damn time I mean - more than half my paltry years.

I know this because about half my years ago, I was working one summer as an intern / runner for a state legislator in the California State Capitol. The legislator I happened to be interning for happened to be the majority party lead in his particular house of the state legislature at the time, so he held some considerable sway. Due to this fact, he'd get a quite a number of famous types showing up to promote their particular cause of passion. I once saw a pre-fat Steven Segal down in the secure parking garage in the basement of the Capitol building giving faux-kung-fu lessons to a couple of the guards down there.

Anyway one random day I'm handed something that needs to get to the Boss on the floor pronto and as I'm the runner its handed to me with the expectation that I'll be on another floor and through the sergeant-at-arms (state version of Secret Service) desk and onto the floor in 30 some seconds, no small feat. So I tear out the front door of the office and literally hold the inside of the door frame to whip my body around the corner without sliding across the slick concrete floor in my dress shoes and I've just released my grip on the door-frame when my full speed momentum catapults me face first into another human about just my size. We literally smash faces (and most of the rest of our bodies) directly into each other and both go falling to the ground.

In fact, my teeth had hit his teeth pretty hard and I had chipped my front tooth where I had formerly had a cap from a previous skateboarding accident. I'm holding my jaw and getting up trying to apologize and help the other guy up when I realize its Woody Harrelson. Who was coming to lobby my boss on legalizing mary jane. He's mostly fine and more interested on who I am and what I do for the Boss and if I might be able to maybe introduce the two of them.

So, that's how I chipped my tooth on Woody's teeth and then introduced him to my boss, so he could try to promote legalization of marijuana.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:47 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh -- Montel just blocks from my work and my bat signal didn't go off? Obviously I'm not watching enough Good Day. Reviews on the site it replaced were mixed, especially by its former vendors who claim they're owed a pretty penny. The number of clubs in this town is kind of staggering. The city council last year set the first policy last year by opening the door to permitting 39 clubs within the city limit. Things in the unincorporated county are murkier.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:15 PM on June 21, 2011


Big news on the legalization front today:

Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barney Frank (D-MA) are set to introduce a bipartisan bill today that would remove the federal prohibition on marijuana. The bill would instead let states legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Ron Paul, Barney Frank team up to legalize marijuana (USA Today)

Ron Paul, Barney Frank: Legalize it (Politico)

Ron Paul and Barney Frank: End the pot prohibition (CNN Money)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:45 AM on June 23, 2011


Other sponsors of the bill are Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). But, because Paul has signed on, MPP is promoting the legislation as a "bipartisan" effort.

Thank you, Barbara Lee (as always). And thank you, Ron Paul! I didn't expect to have to say that.

Conyers, you email me too much.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:57 PM on June 23, 2011


What's remarkable to me is that in USA Today, you get 95%+ of the commenters in favor. Federal legislation on legalization (in one form or another) is inevitable.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on June 23, 2011


Ron Paul has been a consistent voice for drug policy reform. That's neither new nor surprising. He recently spoke in favor of heroin legalization at a Presidential debate. He may be the only Republican we can get on our bills, but he's a reliable one.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:09 AM on June 24, 2011


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