COLUMBIA, S.C. — A hard-hitting billboard in support of legalizing medical cannabis in South Carolina launched Wednesday about a mile away from the Statehouse. An image of the ad is below, and a high-resolution version is available at http://bit.ly/HelpSCvets.
The 48-foot digital bulletin features Steven Diaz, a Columbia-based Marine veteran and veterans advocate who was awarded the Purple Heart after he was severely injured by an IED in Iraq. It reads, “Medical cannabis would help veterans like me. Will our legislators?” Viewers are directed to HelpSCvets.com, where they can contact their lawmakers to urge their support of the Compassionate Care Act, which would establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in South Carolina. The billboard was produced and paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, which is working with Compassionate SC, a local coalition of patients and advocates supporting the Compassionate Care Act.
Today at 11:15 a.m., Diaz and other local veterans will join Compassionate SC at a news conference in front of the billboard at 600 Blossom St.
“When seeking help, veterans already face stigma,” Diaz said. “They shouldn’t be stigmatized further for wanting medical cannabis as a treatment option. They should be able to access it legally and safely without fear of being arrested. When our heroes feel safer in a combat zone than here at home, the system is failing them.
“It is time for South Carolina to enact a comprehensive medical cannabis law,” Diaz said. “There are countless patients who would benefit from it, including a large number of veterans.”
Thirty-two states, D.C., and four U.S. territories have adopted comprehensive medical cannabis laws. Medical cannabis is allowed in the treatment of PTSD in 31 of those states. The only state with a medical cannabis law that does not cover PTSD is Alaska, which has made cannabis legal for adults 21 and older.
“Military veterans around the country are finding significant relief from medical cannabis,” said Marine veteran Matthew Nichols of Charleston. “There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating it is a safe and effective treatment for PTSD, chronic pain, and other conditions. It is certainly safer than a lot of the painkillers and other narcotics that are being prescribed.”
“Veterans need the right to explore other means of treatment with fewer side effects,” said Donald Howell, a Navy veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in multiple combat arenas.
WHAT: News conference and billboard launch featuring veterans who support legal access to medical cannabis and want the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act this year
WHEN: TODAY, Wednesday, March 27, 11:15 a.m. ET
WHERE: In front of the billboard located at 600 Blossom St. (just east of Huger St. on the south side of Blossom St.)
WHO: Steven Diaz, Marine combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and veterans advocate who appears on the billboard
Sam Fogle, Army veteran
Donald Howell, Navy combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient
Additional local veterans
Judy Ghanem, Compassionate SC