Survival Instincts Montel Williams on surviving a stroke and the products that helped him do it

There are numerous reasons why Montel Williams is a vocal defender of the medical properties of medical cannabis and hemp. Had he never discovered the power of medical cannabis many years ago, his life today would be much different. “I don’t really know where I’d be,” Williams admitted to CULTURE, “because of the positive effects it has on my battle with multiple sclerosis.” The talk-show-host-turned-cannabis-advocate uses cannabidiol (CBD) products to alleviate a plethora of problems beyond multiple sclerosis, and the plant’s power was recently put to the test.

In May 2018, Williams survived a life-shattering wake-up call in the form of a cerebellar hemorrhagic stroke while doing his usual intense morning workout—a practice he picked up while serving in the United States Marine Corps and Navy. Thanks to an episode of The Dr. Oz Show Williams watched a month earlier, he instantly knew the popping noise inside his head and sudden fatigue were the hallmark traits of a stroke, so he somehow managed to alert his wife Tara to call 911. He barely survived, and may not have if he didn’t act immediately. Survive he did, and the stroke reaffirmed to him CBD’s beneficial effects. “As a matter of fact, I started using my CBD product on day nine after the stroke,” Williams confided. “I spent 21 days in the hospital. I was using my CBD product from the ninth day on, and I continue to use it every day. I really believe that the speed of my recovery has been based on the fact that I had such a significant amount of protection there to begin with CBD on a daily basis.”

“I really believe that the speed of my recovery has been based on the fact that I had such a significant amount of protection there to begin with CBD on a daily basis.”

 

Williams has known firsthand about the healing properties of the plant since at least 2001. Those convictions eventually led Williams to found LenitivLabs in 2017, a company that sells products infused with various ratios of CBD and THC, including its second generation flagship product line, Montel by Select. Many of the products are regionally specific, and are based upon state cannabis laws. As anyone in the industry knows, operating and serving the cannabis and hemp markets is tricky business. But with Congress’ approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, the federal government’s definition of industrial hemp will be clarified, and it may have imminent implications for hemp-derived products and perhaps CBD.

The cannabis industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and real federal reform is on the horizon. “I think that the [expected] passage of the Farm Bill and the signature will send this industry through the roof,” Williams predicts. “I think there are some other things that have to happen. Just the Farm Bill by itself, under the way it’s currently written, leaves a lot more that still needs to be done. And now, this is going to revolutionize it, and it may break the institutional model.”

It hasn’t always been this way, and not everyone has the opportunity to reap the benefits of a regulated plant. While American culture now says that cannabis is OK, thousands of people—predominantly people of color—ironically remain locked up in prison. “There have been a lot of people that have been arrested in the past for a crime that we as a society now accept,” he said. “Over 90 percent of the population unequivocally believes that there should be medical cannabis available for everybody. I think it’s time to expunge records in addition to justice reform.”

“Over 90 percent of the population unequivocally believes that there should be medical cannabis available for everybody. I think it’s time to expunge records in addition to justice reform.”

 

Sadly Williams’ foray into the cannabis market hasn’t been without problems, and his product line was recently hijacked by greedy scammers. Beginning in 2017, online scammers used the Montel Williams name and imagery to hock counterfeit CBD products, leading to multiple complaints to LenitivLabs, which had nothing to do with the fake products. The fiasco caused Williams and his LenitivLabs team a great deal of stress and time. “. . . I’m hoping that now with the Farm Bill that there will be more standards applied,” Williams suggested. “As this industry matures, we’re going to get some really good science behind everything that’s going on. It’s something that I’ve been fighting diligently to clear my name because there were people putting out products in my name that weren’t even from me. They’re counterfeit in the sense that there is no formulation behind the products. I’m glad that now even the judicial system is starting to pay attention to this.”

Despite these hurdles, Williams still has a few more tricks up his sleeve. “Within the next few months we will have a tincture product in place,” he said. “It will be all CBD, and it will also be a product that will be available where medical marijuana is legal at the ratios that are available.” The former talk show host knows that not everyone is going to take cannabis products the same way. Cannabis consumers come from all different walks of life. And who knows what the future holds for the possibilities at LenitivLabs and Montel by Select. “We are definitely working very diligently, offering different types of delivery systems,” he said. “Again, not everybody likes to take gel caps. Some people have a difficulty swallowing things. To be able to offer a tincture or something else that may be slow-dissolving gives the patient the ability to titrate the product themselves. We’re working on a few possibilities.”

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