By John Rondy
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (Reuters) - A day after a drug paraphernalia citation against him was dismissed, former talk show host Montel Williams renewed his call for more research into the medical benefits of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
In an interview with Reuters, Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said he uses marijuana daily to relieve extreme neuropathic leg pain he suffers as a result of the disease.
He said he prefers to use marijuana over stronger prescription drugs because there are fewer side effects.
"There are multiple things that marijuana can be prescribed for," Williams said, pointing out that medicinal marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
"We have gone so long listening to the social diatribes, and we need to change the conversation about this and research it appropriately."
Williams, 55, was cited in January as he passed through a security checkpoint at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport with a pipe in his bag.
On-the-spot tests conducted on the confiscated pipe came back negative for drug residue. But the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department still cited Williams.
On Tuesday, Kent Lovern, deputy chief district attorney for Milwaukee County, asked a judge to dismiss that citation because his office had concluded it was not a provable case.
Williams now lives in lives in New York and produces a series of infomercials called "Living Well with Montel."
He travels regularly to Wisconsin for experimental MS treatment at the University of Wisconsin medical school in Madison. Wisconsin has not legalized marijuana for medical use.
At the time of the citation, Williams said he forgot the pipe was in his luggage as it passed through a scanner at the airport. He was carrying no illegal drugs at the time but was detained for an hour and posted bond in the amount of $484.
Williams said that when he was stopped in Milwaukee, he had a bag full of syringes that he uses to administer his various medications that he takes for MS. Sheriff's deputies ignored the syringes, he said.
"I think his celebrity status worked against him in this case," said Julius Kim, attorney for Williams. "You've got a person who is an open advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana."
(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Peter Bohan)