Anyone who has seen an episode of The Montel Williams Show knows the host is an unapologetically passionate man. Now, 18 years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Williams is channeling that passion as an advocate for the medicine that has changed his life.
“I’ve been involved with cannabis since 2000,” Williams explains by phone during a recent visit to the Bay Area. His trip has been arranged to coincide with the release of LentivLabs, a new brand of cannabis products he has been developing for years. “I’ve been involved in almost every state that’s passed some kind of legislation since then. I’m involved right now in legislative processes around the country.”
Part of William’s dedication to the cause is due to his 15 years of service with both the Marine Corps and the Navy. When he cares deeply about something, he pursues it with vigor and tactical precision.
One may naturally wonder if a military man, also in the public eye as a celebrity, may have felt any trepidation about engaging with a substance largely considered illicit. Williams says the only angle he considered when informed by a doctor that cannabis may help to treat his symptoms was what science had to say.
“Listen, I really believe science. I have an engineering degree from the U.S. Naval Academy. I have a degree in Russian from the Defensive Language Institute. I have a certificate of accomplishment from the National Cryptologic School. I do research,” he says.
While seeking out CBD-rich medicine from the Humboldt County area, Williams also learned about the benefits of dosing through kief. He says that, around 2004, he was exclusively using kief, well before data came in that largely supported his methods for ingesting medicine.
“I’m not saying any of this to pat myself on the back,” he explains, “but everything I did was through intuitive learning and study. Now that I’ve done this now for 17 years, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and do it.”
LentivLabs is the result of his efforts, a brand that offers a range of carefully crafted oils in a variety of formulas that range from 10-90 (10 percent THC to 90 percent CBD) to 95-5 (five percent THC to 95 percent CBD). Williams says part of his motivation for releasing his own product line was to combat what he sees as a junk-food industry masquerading as medicine.
“Part of what’s made me very anxiety-ridden in the past is when I’ve researched a product that I like to use and found that it has more sugar and garbage in it then some of what you’ll find on the rack in a Quickstop,” he says. “It’s because they’re trying to make candy. I don’t want candy. I want medication.”
Williams, who says he’s been using cannabis every day for 17 years, hopes the range of oils offered by LentivLabs will be used by patients who require a similar variety of treatment to what he himself employs on a daily basis. He prefers a CBD-rich formula to help with his nerves, but requires medicine with more THC than CBD when it comes to treating pain.
“If I do it, and it works for me, I want to at least offer this same opportunity to others,” he says. “They may not work for everybody, but at least they should have the opportunity to do this, and not be afraid that they’ll feel too overly psychotropic or too overly medicated.”
Given his military background, Williams is also appalled by Marinol, the synthetic form of marijuana often given to veterans in lieu of actual cannabis.
“Marinol and that entire program is so disgusting,” he says.
Williams himself was forced to use Marinol while traveling in Russia and the Middle East, and recalls how the drug made him feel “crazy emotional” and later produced a zombie state where he was unable to focus for long stretches of time.
“I have them, but I hate them,” he says. “I do keep them, however, because I want to make sure when I go to see a congressman or a senator or somebody who denies a soldier the right to use a drug that’s not so crazy, that I can say, ‘I have them. You ought to take a look at this and take a peek at what this does.’ ”
Despite what seems to be a noble endeavor on the former TV host’s part, he is quick to point out all his efforts are in the service of his own medical needs as well.
“My main reason is as selfish as selfish can be. I use a medication and I want to ensure anybody who does the same has access to the best, purest, and cleanest medication they can have,” he says. “If the market’s not going to offer something sufficient, then I’m going to do it until the market does. I’ll do it now myself. You know, it’s that whole thing where if you’re not happy with the way that people do things, do it yourself? I’m doing it myself.”