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Medical Cannabis Speakers

Conference Speakers

Christopher Pelic, M.D. Associate Dean for GME and Outreach - Introduction

Christopher G. Pelic, M.D. is an Associate Dean for GME and Outreach and Telehealth GME Director for the Medical University of South Carolina.  Dr. Pelic has over 14 years of experience in medical education. He assists with the overall physician residency programs for MUSC and with affiliations and GME outreach efforts.  Previously he served as the Clinical Director of Medical Education for all VA hospitals with a special emphasis on Graduate Medical Education (GME), and the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability (VACAA) initiative.  He has served as an Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Career Planning for 7 years and clerkship director for the required psychiatry rotation for medical students.  His clinical work has consisted of inpatient and consultation work and he is boarded in both general adult psychiatry and consultation liaison psychiatry. His work with the brain stimulation division and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Veterans has gained national attention.  Dr. Pelic is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Mahmoud A. ElSohly -  *Marijuana: Botanical, Chemical and Product Development Overview

Mahmoud A. ElSohly is a Research Professor at The National Center for Natural Products Research, and Professor of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi (UM) and is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Marijuana Project at UM. He is also the President and Laboratory Director of ElSohly Laboratories Incorporated, an analytical forensic drug testing and a product development laboratory. He received his undergraduate and Masters from Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt and his Ph.D. in 1975 from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, PA. He has been with the University of Mississippi since 1975 and has been the Director of the NIDA Marijuana Project since 1981. He has over 40 years’ experience working with the isolation of natural products (notably cannabis secondary metabolites), synthetic, analytical and forensic chemistry. He has more than 30 patents and over 300 publications in these areas of science. Dr. ElSohly is also a member of many professional organizations such as American Society of Pharmacognosy, American Chemical Society, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Society of Forensic Toxicologist, International Cannabinoids Research Society, International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines to name a few.

Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D. -  Regulation of inflammation by Cannabinoids

Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D., serves as the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina.  He oversees a $250 million research enterprise across all USC campuses. He also serves as Carolina Distinguished Professor, and Director of several NIH and NSF-funded Research Centers including two NIH Centers that pursue research on Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases.  Since joining USC in 2005, he has secured more than $78 million in research funding. Dr. Nagarkatti has published over 250 scientific papers and book chapters, and has trained more than 100 students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty over the course of his career. Dr. Nagarkatti is internationally known for his research on cannabinoids and his lab was one of the first ones to show that cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of certain cancers and inflammatory diseases.  His research has been highlighted in several media outlets from PBS documentary to BBC News.  He has several patents on cannabinoids and some are under review by FDA for clinical use. 

Ethan Russo, M.D. - Cannabis and Psychiatry: Current Evidence and Future Potential

Ethan Russo, MD, is a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) based in Prague, Czech Republic: ICCI is a “center of excellence” comprised of a consortium of international academic institutions and private companies dedicated to promotion of medical cannabis research and industrial hemp nutrition and husbandry. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (Psychology), and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, before residencies in Pediatrics in Phoenix, Arizona and in Child and Adult Neurology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He was a clinical neurologist in Missoula, Montana for 20 years in a practice with a strong chronic pain component. In 1995, he pursued a 3-month sabbatical doing ethnobotanical research with the Machiguenga people in Parque Nacional del Manu, Peru. He has consulted or lectured on these topics in 39 US states and Canadian provinces and 39 countries.

Staci Gruber, MIND - State of MIND: Research Highlights from the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery Program

Dr. Staci Gruber is the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gruber’s clinical research focuses on the application of neurocognitive models and brain imaging to better characterize risk factors for substance abuse and psychiatric conditions. She has been studying the impact of marijuana on the brain for over two decades using neurocognitive, clinical and diagnostic assessments and multimodal brain imaging techniques. Her work examining the etiologic bases of neural models of dysfunction in marijuana-using adolescents and adults has been published in numerous peer reviewed journals and been the basis of national and international symposia, documentaries, news stories and press conferences. Her ongoing initiative to educate policymakers, judges, attorneys and the general public about the neurobiologic differences between adults and adolescents as well as additional factors that contribute to the impact of marijuana on the brain have had both local and national impact on policy formation.

Bonni Goldstein, M.D. - Medical Cannabis for Children

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Bonni Goldstein received her undergraduate education at Rutgers College. She pursued her medical degree at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Her post-doctoral education included internship and residency at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Goldstein also served as Chief Resident at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She was a Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics at USC School of Medicine in Los Angeles, Emergency Transport Attending Physician at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and Emergency Medicine Attending Physician in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. In 2008, Dr. Goldstein developed an interest in the science of medical cannabis after witnessing its beneficial effects in an ill friend. Since then she has been evaluating both adult and pediatric patients for use of medical cannabis. Dr. Goldstein has given numerous lectures to many patient support programs, including the Cancer Support Community, Southern California Prosthetics, and Pediatric Epilepsy. She has also lectured at CannaMed 2016 at Harvard University, United in Compassion Medical Cannabis Symposium in Sydney, Australia,  Patients Out of Time 2015, and United Patients Group Conference 2016.  She is currently the Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a California-based medical practice devoted to educating patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions.  She is a Medical Consultant to  She is a Member of the International Association of Cannabis as Medicine, the International Cannabinoid Research Society, and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

Kevin M. Gray, M.D. - Understanding and Addressing Youth Cannabis Use

Kevin M. Gray, M.D., is Professor and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Professor of Addiction Sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina.  With a multidisciplinary group of collaborators, Dr. Gray conducts National Institutes of Health supported clinical research, contributing novel advances to treatments for substance use disorders in adolescents and young adults. Dr. Gray is Co-Chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Substance Use Committee, serves on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, is a standing member of the National Institutes of Health Interventions to Prevent and Treat Addictions Study Section, is Associate Editor of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, and serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the AACAP Physician Scientist Program in Substance Abuse K12 Award program. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice and research program, Dr. Gray is dedicated to education, providing didactic instruction across training programs and mentoring multiple junior faculty and trainees in clinical research.

Jeffrey Block, M.D. - Cannabis Conundrums

Jeffrey Sherwood Block, M.D. achieved his bachelor’s degree from Emory University (1978) majoring in analytical chemistry with a minor in psychology and received his Medical Doctorate from the University of Miami (1982). Block is an American Board-Certified Anesthesiologist who is additionally Fellowship trained in Pain Management & Addiction Medicine. Medical book publisher CRC Press resourced Dr. Block’s expertise authoring their next textbook’s content concerning clinical pain management and the endocannabinoid receptor system’s therapeutic potential. “DocBlock” has served as President of UM’s Miller School of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Association and currently shares his expertise as a popular adjunct Professor and subject lecturer. As a highly qualified and trusted national educator on cannabinoid medicine, Professor Block regularly lectures physicians including for the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine’s “Grand Rounds” case presentations and their Annual Integrative Medicine Conference; for Nova Southeastern School of Pharmacy; for Baptist Health of South Florida’s online education and Primary Care Symposiums; for the Miami-Dade Medical Association; Skype lectures for the University of Colorado; and as Keynote speaker for Colorado’s biannual Marijuana for Medical Professionals conference; and at California’s annual Emerald Cup competition.

Alice P. Mead, J.D., LL.M. - How Cannabis-Derived Medications Go Through the FDA Approval Process: Development and Regulation

Ms. Mead received her Juris Doctor degree from University of Santa Clara School of Law and her Master of Law degree from Yale. She served for twelve years as an in-house counsel to the California Medical Association (CMA), one of the largest state medical associations in the country.  Prior to that time, Ms. Mead was a litigation associate at a global law firm and an Assistant Professor of Law at Arizona State University College of Law, where she taught courses in constitutional law. Since 1999 she has served as Vice President, U.S. Public Policy and Public Affairs, for GW Pharmaceuticals (and its U.S. subsidiary, Greenwich Biosciences), one of the first companies in the world to develop cannabis-derived medications as prescription products in adherence to modern scientific and regulatory standards for pharmaceutical products. She focuses on domestic and international drug control laws and policy issues.

Garnett R. Meador, Esq. - The Good, Bad and Ugly of State Medical Cannabis Program Laws

Garnett Meador has had a successful career as a corporate lawyer for over 30 years. He held leadership and equity positions in multiple private start-ups or turnaround opportunities, as well as with publicly traded companies. Garnett has broad experience in industries ranging from healthcare and technology to consumer goods, where his unfailing determination and attention to detail were instrumental in the implementation of aggressive strategic plans. In a role as the Chief Compliance Officer of a publicly traded company regulated by multiple government agencies, Garnett has negotiated complex regulations and restrictions and has come to appreciate and understand the public policy rationale behind legislation and the practical implementation/compliance matters that businesses must face. As the CEO/Executive Director of the American Society of Cannabis Medicine, Garnett brings extensive knowledge of historical and present-day medical cannabis legislation on both the federal level and state level. In addition, his front-line experience within health care systems, particularly at the eldercare and long-term care facilities level, supports his ability to effectively lead within the developing medical cannabis industry.

Jonathan A. Havens, Esq. - The Explosive Growth of Cannabis: What Are FDA’s and DEA’s Roles?

Jonathan Havens is the co-founder and co-chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. He also serves as chair of the firm’s Food and Beverage Practice and is a member of the firm’s Life Sciences Practice. Jonathan’s unique perspective on cannabis regulation is informed by his congressional, federal agency, and national and international law firm experience. Before entering private practice, Jonathan served as a regulatory counsel with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where he focused on compliance and enforcement related to promotion, advertising, and labeling. Prior to law school, Jonathan served as a legislative aide in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

Senator Tom Davis

Sen. Davis obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Furman University in 1982, graduating magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1985, graduating with highest honors and as a member of the Order of the Coif. He has practiced law in Beaufort at the law firm of Harvey & Battey, P.A., since 1985. He has served as a board member of the Beaufort County Planning Board, Lowcountry Council of Governments, Historic Beaufort Foundation, the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority and the South Carolina States Ports Authority. Tom currently serves on the following Senate Committees: Finance; Banking and Insurance; Labor, Commerce and Industry; Medical Affairs; Corrections and Penology; and Invitations (where he serves as chairman).

Patrick J. McLaughlin, Esq. - Too High to Drive: DUIs and Cannabis

Patrick J. McLaughlin practices law in Florence, South Carolina with the Wukela Law Firm.  He graduated with a BA from the University of South Carolina in 1997 and received his JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2004.  Mr. McLaughlin’s practice focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights violations and criminal defense.  He is a past-President of the Florence County Bar and the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (SCACDL). He is the founder and current co-chair of SCACDL’s annual Criminal Defense 101 CLE and a board member for Justice 360.  Mr. McLaughlin is NHTSA certified in DUI Detection & SFSTs, Drug Evaluation & Classification/Drug Recognition Expert, and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement.  He has presented on ethics and trial tactics to legal CLEs and lectured on constitutional and criminal justice issues in academia.  Mr. McLaughlin is admitted to practice in South Carolina, the United States District Court for South Carolina and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Mark A. Mason, Esq. - Medical Cannabis - The Unstoppable Wave - Legal Update

Attorney Mark A. Mason of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina represents the world’s only credit union chartered to serve the booming marijuana and hemp industry in its critical legal battle to bring legitimate banking and financial services to marijuana-related businesses. This project and the nationally important litigation Mr. Mason is handling against the Federal Reserve and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)  

Ruth Rauls - The Ever Changing Legal Landscape of Marijuana and How It Affects the Workplace

Ruth is an employment lawyer who counsels management clients on human resource practices and employment law. Ruth is a member of  Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s Labor and Employment practice, and Cannabis Law practice.  She concentrates her practice on employment counseling and litigation. She has extensive experience litigating matters at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal court in New Jersey and New York, as well as in private mediations and arbitrations. She has litigated claims arising under state specific discrimination statutes, as well as federal statues, including Title VII, the ADA and the FMLA. Ruth also counsels and advises clients with legal and practical advice on litigation matters as well as day-to-day issues that affect their business operations. She provides advice to businesses on employment law and counsels employers on preventative practices to minimize workplace disputes.

Jonathan Halford, M.D. -  Research Panelist

Dr. Jonathan Halford is a native of South Carolina and grew up in Charleston. He has been programming computers since he was 12 years old and has worked as a computer technician and programmer part-time since he was 19. He graduated cum laude from Duke University with a major in religious studies in 1990. After medical school, Dr. Halford spent six years training at Duke University Medical Center where he completed a dual neurology-psychiatry residency training program and a neurophysiology fellowship. He accepted a faculty position in the Department of Neurosciences at MUSC in 2003. At MUSC, Dr. Halford is a professor of neurology, the director of the Translational Research Unit for the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and the associate director for Technical Development for the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory. At the Charleston VA Medical Center, he is the director of an associate consortium site of the VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence and the director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory. He is also an adjunct associate professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Computing at Clemson University.

Emma Grace Carter, M.D. - Rsearch Panelist

Dr. Emma Carter is a pediatric neurologist and epileptologist at MUSC. Her clinical interests include pediatric epilepsy, brain injury and concussion, developmental delay, genetic diseases of the nervous system, and palliative medicine. Dr. Carter obtained her medical degree at MUSC and completed a residency in pediatric neurology at MUSC. She then went on to do a fellowship in pediatric epilepsy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee before joining the MUSC faculty in August 2018. She is board certified in Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology. During her residency and fellowship, she was awarded for her passion in teaching and dedication to patient care, and she continues to have special interests in medical education teaching medical students, residents, and fellows.

Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D. - Regulation of Inflammation by Cannabinoids

Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D., serves as the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina.  He oversees a $250 million research enterprise across all USC campuses. He also serves as Carolina Distinguished Professor, and Director of several NIH and NSF-funded Research Centers including two NIH Centers that pursue research on Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases.  Since joining USC in 2005, he has secured more than $78 million in research funding. Dr. Nagarkatti has published over 250 scientific papers and book chapters, and has trained more than 100 students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty over the course of his career. Dr. Nagarkatti is internationally known for his research on cannabinoids and his lab was one of the first ones to show that cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of certain cancers and inflammatory diseases.  His research has been highlighted in several media outlets from PBS documentary to BBC News.  He has several patents on cannabinoids and some are under review by FDA for clinical use.