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WIRE: Medical professionals to testify on South Carolina medical cannabis today

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A group of physicians, nurses, medical researchers, and other healthcare professionals will testify in favor of comprehensive medical cannabis legislation Wednesday during a South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee hearing. They will join leaders of Compassionate South Carolina for a pre-hearing news conference at 2 p.m. ET outside the L. Marion Gressette State Office Building.

S. 212, sponsored by Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. The subcommittee hearing on the bill is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET in Room 308.

“There is a large and rapidly growing body of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of medical cannabis,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, an Arizona-based physician and nationally renowned medical cannabis researcher who travelled to Columbia to provide expert testimony at Wednesday’s hearing. “It is often a much safer option than traditional prescription medications, especially when it comes to treating chronic pain. Patients who could benefit from medical cannabis should be able to access it safely and legally with the guidance of their physicians.”

Other medical professionals who plan to participate in the news conference and testify in support of S. 212 include University of South Carolina Vice President for Research Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti; Lexington-based rehabilitation counselor and American Academy of Pain Management Fellow Cynthia Grimley; Columbia-based physician and addiction specialist Dr. Stephen Merlin; Anderson-based physician Dr. William Griffith; Susan Watson-Neimy, a registered nurse whose daughter is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient attending the College of Charleston; Manning-based hospice registered nurse Judy Frates; and pharmacist Anthony Chase of Daufuskie Island, who has operated several hospice facilities.

“Chemotherapy is saving my daughter’s life, but it is brutal on her body and leaves her with extreme nausea, lethargy, and discomfort,” Watson-Neimy said. “The medication she has been prescribed to reduce these side effects is addictive and makes her feel completely ‘drugged out.’ Substituting cannabis has made her treatments far more tolerable and allowed her to reclaim her life and return to school. As a medical professional and as my daughter’s caregiver, I implore the Legislature to adopt comprehensive medical cannabis legislation this year.”

More than three out of four South Carolina residents (78%) think cannabis should be made legal for medical use, according to a September 2016 Winthrop Poll commissioned by The State. Only one in six South Carolinians (16%) think it should remain illegal.

WHAT: Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee hearing regarding comprehensive medical cannabis legislation

WHEN: Wednesday, March 8, media availability at 2 p.m. ET; subcommittee hearing begins at 3 p.m. ET

WHERE: Media availability outside the L. Marion Gressette State Office Building, 1101 Pendleton St., Columbia; subcommittee hearing in Room 308 of the Gressette State Office Building

WHO: Anthony Chase, Daufuskie Island-based healthcare professional

Judy Frates, Manning-based hospice registered nurse

Dr. William Griffith, Anderson-based physician

Cynthia Grimley, Lexington-based certified rehabilitation counselor and fellow at the American Academy of Pain Management

Dr. Stephen Merlin, Columbia-based physician and addiction specialist

Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina

Dr. Sue Sisley, Arizona-based physician and nationally recognized medical cannabis researcher

Susan Watson-Neimy, Columbia-based registered nurse whose daughter is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient attending College of Charleston

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Compassionate South Carolina is a statewide coalition of patients, families, and advocates working to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in South Carolina. For more information, visit

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