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Veterans call on SC Legislature to enact comprehensive medical cannabis program

Montel Williams

A group of veterans joined together for a virtual press conference on Monday to call on the South Carolina Legislature to enact a comprehensive medical cannabis program in 2021.

Earlier this year, lawmakers introduced the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (S. 150/ H. 3361), which would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions and a doctor’s certification to access medical cannabis from regulated facilities.

Thirty-six states across the country have comprehensive medical cannabis laws, including several Southern states, such as Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Speakers at the event included David Newsom, a U.S. Army veteran whose daughter Harmony was born with a very rare genetic condition called lissencephaly, which causes seizures; Don Howell, an RN and Purple Heart recipient who served 22 years of active duty with the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and administered care in multiple combat arenas, including Beirut, Somalia, and Desert Storm; Montel Williams, a decorated former naval officer, Emmy-award winning television personality, inspirational speaker, author, entrepreneur, and advocate for patients worldwide; Steven Diaz, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was severely injured while clearing IEDs in Iraq; and J.S., a female Army veteran who served for eight years, including a tour in Kosovo from 2003-2004, and who now suffers from an extremely painful kidney condition and CPTSD.

One of the first to speak was Montel Williams, a decorated former naval officer, Emmy-award-winning television personality, inspirational speaker, author, entrepreneur and advocate.

“I am one of thousands of veterans who depend on medical cannabis to ease our pain and suffering. South Carolina needs to stop treating us like criminals and take patients off the battlefield in its war on marijuana,” said Willaims.

Steven Diaz also spoke. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and project manager for Hidden Wounds.

“Veterans suffer both psychical and emotional wounds and expect adequate care. When that care is insufficient, many turn to medical cannabis for relief. They should not have to fight another battle at home or feel ashamed because they want to heal,” said Diaz.

Next up was a woman who went by J. She is an Army veteran who served for eight years.

“Cannabis has been a far more effective treatment for me than opioids. Opioids left me dependent and didn’t help my pain, my trauma, or my mood. Within weeks of medicating with cannabis, my pain was minimal, my kidney function improved, and my depression lifted. But the medicine that saves my life everyday is illegal in South Carolina. I am asking my fellow South Carolinians, please support your veterans by asking your legislators to support compassionate legislation to bring this relief to everyone who needs it,” said J.

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