Coker Hosts Cannabis Symposium



Coker Hosts Cannabis Symposium

by R. S. Marlow

HARTSVILLE, S.C. (7513MediaLab) – State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), delivered the closing speech to a receptive audience of more than one hundred people at the Medical Cannabis Symposium at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. on Sunday November 5.

Jill Swing, founder of the SC Compassionate Care Alliance, a non-profit that works to teach others to advocate and join the fight to legalize medical cannabis, opened the event with an emotional speech about how medicinal cannabis benefits her special needs daughter. The following speaker, Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina’s Vice President for Research, described how cannabinoids interact with the human body to alleviate pain and decrease symptoms of various ailments. Sen. Davis, who is a sponsor of The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, closed the event by calling for the bill to be passed early in the upcoming legislative session.

Jill Swing talks about her special needs child.


The speakers were introduced by Mal Hyman, a professor at Coker College, who spoke about his connection to the medical cannabis issue. “A family member with cancer used cannabis and lived another thirty years,” said Hyman as he introduced Swing, who has been at the forefront of the medical cannabis movement in South Carolina has first hand experience dealing with the trials of caring for a special needs child.

“I’m just a mom with a chronically ill child who is fighting for safe, legal access to medicine that I know will improve her quality of life,” resonated Swing throughout her presentation. “My own 9-year-old daughter, Mary Louise, has a severe form of intractable epilepsy. At one point she was having 800-1,000 seizures per day. By age six, her doctors told us they had run out of options that traditional medicine might offer so we began seeking alternatives.”

Dr. Nagarkatti expains how the brain processes cannananoids.


With the use of an in depth slideshow, Dr. Nagarkatti explained that cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years in multiple regions around the globe. He went on to describe the history, chemical makeup, reactive qualities and how cannabis could be used as a treatment. In addition, he went into detail about why cannabis was initially criminalized.

Dr. Nagarkatti fielded multiple questions from the audience.

“Does cannabis interact with other medications,” asked one local senior, who asked not to be named. “Inform your physician as you would with any other medication,” replied Dr. Nagarkatti. “More research must be done still, but we have been using cannabiniods for centuries.

Sen. Davis, citing a 2016 poll, claimed medical cannabis has seventy-eight per cent approval rating in South Carolina and passing this bill is a win for South Carolina. “There has been thousands of studies,” said Sen. Davis questioning the current laws. “It does not add up.”

“Our primary opposition comes from law enforcement and some Upstate Republicans,” said Sen. Davis, who recognizes their objections. “If law enforcement wants more of a role in oversight, we are open to discussion.” However, Sen Davis believes many of the members of law enforcement’s claims of a cottage industry of physicians who would prescribe cannabis as a recreational drug does not hold water. “This bill is the one of the most conservative, if not the most conservative, medical cannabis bills in the country,” said Sen. Davis. “We can use technology to track the product from seed to patient.”

“I am a believer in that government should not be involved with personal decisions,” proclaimed Sen. Davis during the closing address. “How is this not a conservative principle.”

Nearly thirty of the event’s attendees are current students at Coker College. The students, who are required to attend multiple functions on campus to fulfill academic requirements, were active participants in the discussion and were informed about relevant issues, including the Opioid epidemic prevalent across the state.

“Big pharmaceutical companies are against this,” said Tyler Hinson, sociology major from Kershaw, S.C..”It might take away the money they make selling painkillers.”

On January 10, Sen. Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) introduced The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would allow qualifying patients with debilitating medical conditions and a recommendation from their physician to use and safely access medical cannabis. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would regulate and license cultivation centers, processing facilities, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories. The department will also issue registration cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers.

Click here for more information about The South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance