Soon-To-Be Introduced Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana In South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – A number of South Carolina lawmakers are pushing for medical marijuana to be legalized and FOX 46 Charlotte has obtained a soon-to-be introduced bill that, if approved, would do just that.

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would legalize marijuana and allow up to two ounces of cannabis, (or the equivalent in cannabis products), for those with a debilitating medical condition, as prescribed by their doctor.

Conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, PTSD, Chron’s Disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, wasting syndrome, persistent nausea, people undergoing end-of-life hospice care and more could allow patients to qualify for a medical cannabis card with their doctor’s approval and supervision.

“It’s a very socially conservative, medical cannabis bill that’s very tightly-regulated, supervised by doctors, supervised by SLED and DHEQ and which draws a bright-yellow line against recreational use and I think that’s what South Carolinians want,” the bill’s author, Senator Tom Davis said.

Davis said he has been working on this legislation for four years.

“It’s been an organic thing,” Senator Davis said. “We’ve been adding things to it, we’ve been refining it, tightening it up, clarifying, getting input from other legislators.”

A new poll from Benchmark Research shows 72 percent of South Carolinians surveyed support legalizing medical marijuana.

The 2016 Winthrop Poll showed 78 percent of South Carolinians surveyed believe medical marijuana should be legalized.

“Seventy-five percent of South Carolinians…want doctors to be able to have the power to prescribe cannabis for certain, specific conditions, which the science shows can be addressed with cannabis,” Senator Davis said.

The South Carolina Medical Association, for now, is not in support of medical marijuana. In an Op Ed to thestate.com, chairman of the Board, John C. Ropp III, spoke against potential legislation.

“Medical studies have failed to make it clear what benefits there are in using marijuana,” Ropp wrote. “As physicians, our main concern is medical safety and efficacy, which can only be clearly determined for marijuana after controlled scientific testing on a widespread peer-reviewed basis. For decades, the DEA, FDA, and National Institutes of Health have all agreed on this same process. Until such wide-scale testing occurs, it remains dangerous for our legislative body to ask physicians to be the gatekeepers for marijuana in our state.”

A 2014, WebMD poll, found that 69 percent of 1,544 doctors surveyed believe marijuana can help with certain treatments and conditions.

The Compassionate Care Act is scheduled to be introduced on Jan. 15.

The Compassionate Care Act does not allow for smoking of marijuana but does allow for the cannabis flower to be sold, edibles, vapes, oils and other methods of consumption.

“It’s taken four or five years to get to this point but that’s O.K.,” Senator Davis said. “It’ll be read across the desk of both the House and Senate on Tuesday…I feel really good about getting something approved this session before we adjourn in May.”

In North Carolina, lawmakers were also working on legislation that would legalize medical marijuana prior to the new year.