Montel Wants To Own A Marijuana Dispensary In D.C.


Photo: Chris Pizzello
Montel arrives at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Las Vegas, June 27, 2010. Williams is part of a group which seeks to operate a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facilities in Washington, D.C.

‚ÄčCelebrity Montel Williams is part of one nonprofit group trying for a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facilities in the District of Columbia.

The Abatin Wellness Center has expressed “preliminary interest” in opening medical marijuana businesses in the city, according to D.C. records, reports Mike DeBonis at The Washington Post. Montel is already the public face of a dispensary by the same name which opened this year in Sacramento, California.

Abatin Wellness has hired Frederick D. Cooke Jr., a D.C. lawyer, to help with the application. Cooke confirmed on Tuesday that Williams, who has multiple sclerosis and is a medical marijuana supporter, has a major role in the group.
“He is not the managing director or the driving guy,” Cooke said. “But he is certainly at a level more involved than being a face of the organization. He knows a lot about the organization, and he speaks and gets resources. He does stuff that makes the organization go.”
“This is not a spokesman-for-hire deal,” agreed Jonathan Franks, a Los Angeles-based publicist for both Williams and for Abatin Wellness Center.
Williams visited D.C. this year to show his interest in the city and its medical marijuana program, according to Cooke. “We talked to a few people outside the Wilson Building and inside the Wilson Building,” Cooke said. “We couldn’t lobby.”
The nonprofit Sacramento dispensary is trying for an “upscale” niche in the medical marijuana retail industry. One reviewer referred to it as the “Nieman Marcus of marijuana.”
People convicted of a felony or of a drug-related misdemeanor are now allowed to participate in D.C.’s medical marijuana program. It is unclear whether Montel’s January citation for possession of “drug paraphernalia” (a marijuana pipe) at an airport will make things more difficult for him.
“I don’t believe that would be an issue,” Cooke said.
Applications to operate cultivation centers are due by September 16. The application period for dispensaries will follow.
City officials said they hope medical marijuana will be available to D.C. patients by next May reports NBC Washington.