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Montel Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Since then, the TV talk-show host has tried a variety of drugs -- everything from morphine to Vicodin -- to ease the constant pain he feels in his lower extremities.
The drug that has proved most effective for Williams is marijuana, which is why he paid a visit to Capitol Hill recently on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Williams was on the Hill to try to persuade lawmakers to pass bills pertaining to medicinal marijuana, such as the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, which allows patients who have recommendations from their doctors in California and nine other states where the medical form of the drug is legal, to grow marijuana without fear of arrest. This was Williams' third visit to Capitol Hill. So far, he has met with a total of eight lawmakers. He lives in Manhattan
The U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second. The budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars.
Arrests for drug law violations in 2005 are expected to exceed the 1,678,192 arrests of 2003.
Someone is arrested every 20 seconds.
In 2002, 45.3 percent of the 1,538,813 total arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana -- a total of 697,082. Of those, 613,986 people were arrested for marijuana possession alone. This is a slight decrease from 2000, when a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 were for possession alone.
Since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year. About 25 per cent are sentenced for drug law violations.
Nearly 4,000 new HIV infections can be prevented before the year 2006 if the federal ban on needle exchange funding is lifted this year.
About 10 new cases could be prevented every day.