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Law South Carolina

Baron23

Well-Known Member
This is kind of a Darwin Award thing to me....like, how can somebody so stupid still be able to walk and breath at the same time much less get elected as South Carolina AG.


SC police, doctors fighting medical marijuana; AG calls it US’s ‘most dangerous drug’

COLUMBIA — Flanked by lawmakers, law enforcement officials and doctors in white lab coats, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson called marijuana “the most dangerous drug” in America while denouncing legislation Wednesday that would allow patients to obtain it with a doctor’s prescription.

Various speakers, which included State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and leaders from the S.C. Medical Association, suggested the use of medical marijuana would cause a litany of problems in South Carolina: addiction, increased traffic accidents and — without specifically citing any peer-reviewed research — an increase in the number of overdose deaths.

While standing in the center of the Statehouse lobby, Wilson rattled off slang describing the high from marijuana.

“They use words like stoned, high, wasted, baked, fried, cooked, chonged, cheeched, dope-faced, blazed, blitzed, blunted, blasted, danked, stupid, wrecked — and that’s only half the words they use,” Wilson said. “Are these consistent with something that describes a medicine?”

Wilson classified marijuana as the most dangerous drug because he said it was “the most misunderstood drug.”

Dr. March Seabrook, the S.C. Medical Association president, focused his opposition on the lack of medical and regulatory oversight of marijuana. The trade group for doctors, he said, supports more research on marijuana and the use of cannabis oil for childhood seizures, a treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year.

After the news conference, the Medical Association said it disagreed with Wilson’s assessment that marijuana is “the most dangerous drug” in the country. Still, Seabrook argued the new legislation “will not improve the health of South Carolina.”

Medical marijuana supporters at the Statehouse said Wilson’s comments and the overall tone at the news conference played on the public’s fears.

“This is just hysteria,” said state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia Democrat and former prosecutor.

Nationwide, 33 states have set up regulations to allow for the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. So far this year, 15 S.C. lawmakers, including many of Charleston County’s legislative delegation, sponsored a bill to add South Carolina to that growing list.

The newly proposed legislation would allow patients to obtain up to two ounces of marijuana every two weeks — an amount that Wilson said is too much for a patient to use in that time.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

South Carolina Voters Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana By A Five-To-One Ratio, New Poll Finds


South Carolina voters support legalizing medical marijuana by a ratio of five to one, according to a new poll.

As lawmakers consider bills to enact the policy change this year, the survey shows 72 percent of respondents back the reform, while just 15 percent are opposed.

“The results of this poll reinforce what advocates have known for years—that the overwhelming majority of South Carolinians support a compassionate medical cannabis program,” Judy Ghanem, whose daughter suffers from a rare genetic disorder, said in a press release. “Voters understand that medical cannabis can provide life-changing relief, and that the law should not stand in the way.”

“My daughter and thousands of other South Carolinians deserve the right to the same medical option that is now legal in 36 states,” she said. “It is past time lawmakers listen to voters and adopt the S.C. Compassionate Care Act to stop needless suffering.”

Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R) and Sen. Tom Davis (R) prefiled companion versions of that legislation in December. The next month, the measures were formally introduced and referred to the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee and Medical Affairs Committee, respectively.

“I feel there is a very good chance we get something passed this session,” Davis said. “This bill has been fully vetted after five years of testimony and input by various stakeholders. The time has come for lawmakers to get out of the way and allow patients, in consultation with their physicians, to legally and safely access medicinal cannabis.”

Under the proposal, patients would be eligible for medical marijuana if a physician certifies that they have at least one qualifying condition such as epilepsy, autism, chronic pain, glaucoma or post-traumatic stress disorder. The House version stipulates that doctor could make the recommendation for any condition they see fit.

A Medical Cannabis Advisory Board would be established, and regulators would be authorized to add conditions.

Patients could purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana per 14-day period, but they would be prohibited from cultivating cannabis for personal use.

Support for medical marijuana legalization among South Carolina residents has been notable stable, as a 2018 Benchmark Research poll similarly found 72 percent support for the reform, including nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Republicans.

Also that year, 82 percent of voters in the state’s Democratic primary election voted in favor of medical cannabis legalization in a nonbinding ballot advisory vote. Lawmakers prefiled four marijuana measures for the 2019 session, but they did not advance.

The latest survey was released by the advocacy groups SC Compassionate Care Alliance and Compassionate SC. It involved interviews with 801 registered South Carolina voters from February 16-19.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

South Carolina Senators Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee


A South Carolina Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The Compassionate Care Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Davis (R), would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase up to two ounces of cannabis every two weeks.

Members of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee passed the bill in a 9-5 vote.

“You see poll after poll—even in South Carolina, even in the most conservative parts of South Carolina—showing that upwards of 70 percent, in some cases 80 percent, of South Carolinians want doctors to be able to provide this to their patients if in the doctor’s opinion, it can be of benefit,” Davis said.

He also repeatedly made the case that his legislation “is the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country.”

“I have promised this committee that I was going to come up with a bill that was truly a medical bill,” Davis said. “That it was not a slippery slope to recreational use—was not a wink and a nod to recreational use.”

For the initial rollout, regulators would approve 15 licenses for vertically integrated marijuana businesses that would control production, distribution and sales. More than 100 dispensaries would be licensed to operate under the bill.

The Senate version of the legislation would ban smokable marijuana products, while a separate House bill that’s pending would give patients that option. Home cultivation would be prohibited under both versions.

Additionally, the Senate version lists specific types of conditions that qualify for cannabis treatment, whereas the House measure would also allow physicians to recommend marijuana to any patient with a debilitating condition that the doctor is qualified to treat.

The sponsor offered an amendment to the legislation that the panel adopted. It would allocate revenue to cover implementation as well as drug prevention education. Another component specifies that health insurers aren’t required to cover medical cannabis.

The amendment would require “material conformance” with the requirements of the medical marijuana law by before reciprocity for out-of-state patients is grants. It also stipulates that the state law would be repealed if it is deemed to be preempted by federal law in court.

South Carolina is one of a select few states without an effective medical cannabis program, though it does have a limited CBD law on the books.

A poll released in February found that South Carolina voters support legalizing medical marijuana by a ratio of five to one. But the state does not have a citizen-led initiative process that has empowered voters in other states to get the policy change enacted.

Support for medical marijuana legalization among South Carolina residents has been notably stable, as a 2018 Benchmark Research poll similarly found 72 percent support for the reform, including nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Republicans.

Also that year, 82 percent of voters in the state’s Democratic primary election voted in favor of medical cannabis legalization in a nonbinding ballot advisory vote. Lawmakers prefiled four marijuana measures for the 2019 session, but they did not advance.

“I feel there is a very good chance we get something passed this session,” Davis said after prefiling this latest legislation in December. “This bill has been fully vetted after five years of testimony and input by various stakeholders. The time has come for lawmakers to get out of the way and allow patients, in consultation with their physicians, to legally and safely access medicinal cannabis.”

The sponsor also said that if the legislature doesn’t advance the reform, he’d propose a bill to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters through a referendum.

A coalition of advocates for health care and criminal justice reform, as well as veterans groups, have recently stepped up their push to get medical cannabis legalized in South Carolina.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

South Carolina Senator Threatens To Block ‘Every Single Other Bill’ If Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Get A Vote


If other South Carolina senators move to block a bill to legalize medical marijuana, its sponsor said on Tuesday that he would use his power to stop every other piece of legislation on the chamber’s calendar in protest.

“We’re going to get this bill passed,” Sen. Tom Davis (R), who filed the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, said at a press conference with supporters. “And if there are some up on the Senate floor that are still in this reefer madness, drug war mentality and block and stand in the way of this bill, I will exercise my rights as a senator to respond in kind to every single other bill on this calendar.”

Sen. Greg Hembree (R) said on Monday that he intended to block the cannabis legislation, which is on the Senate calendar after clearing the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in a 9-5 vote last week, from proceeding further. If he uses his authority to stop consideration as a single senator, it would require a three-fifths majority of the chamber to move ahead on the bill.

Davis, at the press conference, said that federal prohibition was imposed under the Nixon administration in order to “punish” the president’s political enemies—but even so, the senator is singularly focused on lifting that prohibition for medical use. He has taken pains to argue that his measure is not a “slippery slope” to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

“We need to get this bill passed. I understand what South Carolinians want,” he said. “They want to empower doctors, they want to help patients, they do not want recreational use.”

The senator’s legislation would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase up to two ounces of cannabis every two weeks.

During last week’s committee hearing, Davis repeatedly made the case that his bill “is the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country.”

For the initial rollout, regulators would approve 15 licenses for vertically integrated marijuana businesses that would control production, distribution and sales. More than 100 dispensaries would be licensed to operate under the bill.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Sen. Tom Davis (R), who filed the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, said at a press conference with supporters. “And if there are some up on the Senate floor that are still in this reefer madness, drug war mentality and block and stand in the way of this bill, I will exercise my rights as a senator to respond in kind to every single other bill on this calendar.”

"But as we enter the last week of the legislative session, there’s still a question as to whether the discussion around the Compassionate Care Act will take place this year or next."​

Well, I'm guessing that this guy Davis has retreated and not exercised his right to block everything if he doesn't get a vote on med MJ.

“We don’t have the list of conditions so broad to where anybody can walk into a doctor’s office and get an authorization to take cannabis,” Davis says. Those conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease or disorder including epilepsy, glaucoma, and PTSD with confirmation that someone has experienced a traumatic event."​
Kind of a shit program anyway.....note what is NOT in this list of eligible maladies.

Medical marijuana steps away from legalization in South Carolina


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina is on the calendar for debate at the state House.

But as we enter the last week of the legislative session, there’s still a question as to whether the discussion around the Compassionate Care Act will take place this year or next.

State Sen. Tom Davis, who represents Beaufort and Jasper counties, has been working on a bill to legalize medical marijuana since 2015.

“My job is to come up with a bill that empowers doctors and puts medicine in their hands to help their patients,” Davis says.

Over the years, dozens of other states have passed similar bills and Davis says he’s learned from their mistakes.

“South Carolinians do not want to legalize it for recreational purposes,” Davis says. “So the answer to those people who say it’s a slippery slope, I would say, a state’s laws are reflective of what their people want.”

Out of all of the other states’ bills, South Carolina’s is the most conservative, he says. In fact, it lists out the debilitating medical conditions that could qualify.

“We don’t have the list of conditions so broad to where anybody can walk into a doctor’s office and get an authorization to take cannabis,” Davis says.

Those conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease or disorder including epilepsy, glaucoma, and PTSD with confirmation that someone has experienced a traumatic event.

Davis also says it’s going to be tightly regulated.

“You only have a specific number of authorized growers - a very finite amount,” Davis says. “A specific number of individuals or entities that can process it. A specific number of dispensaries and we want to limit the number of these establishments because I don’t want the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the State Law Enforcement Division and other regulators to be overwhelmed.”

If the bill passes, how would things change?​


Many might not know – cannabis is already approved to grow in South Carolina. One farm that does is Nature’s Highway Farm in Neeses – just west of Orangeburg. They’re one of hundreds in the Palmetto State that have a permit to grow cannabis – but only plants that contain less than 0.3 percent of THC – which is classified as Hemp.

Andy Fogle says they have hundreds of plants they keep trimming and replicating as part of their hemp-growing process.

“If we allow them to bud, then we’ve lost that genetics, so we have to keep that stuff,” Fogle says.

They have thousands of replication plants that they are waiting on to root and then they will plant those in the field come June.

When it comes to the extraction of the hemp, that goes to another Nature’s Highway facility. They dry the flower and combine it with frozen food-grade alcohol. It’s essentially like a washing machine which washes the oil out of the plant. From there it goes through filters and ultimately ends up in the evaporation room where they separate the oil from the alcohol.

“We’re pumping CBD oil and ethanol that’s mixed together,” Fogle says. “It’s heated up. What’s happening is the ethanol, or alcohol, is evaporating. It’s going up a column as a vapor. In this coil is a chiller and you’ll the see ethanol, or alcohol, is coming back out. Once we get out all the ethanol, there will be nothing but CBD oil left.”

Fogle explains if medical marijuana were to be legalized, this entire process would stay the same. They would just be dealing with a different strain of cannabis.

While Fogle says they would definitely be interested in pursuing a permit to grow medical marijuana, if it’s legalized, Davis reiterates he wants to start out slow.

“I think ultimately what you’ll end up with is maybe between 15 to 30, growers, approximately that number of processors, more dispensers because it’s a broader portion of the state you have to cover there,” Davis says. “It’s going to take a while for DHEC and SLED to become accustomed to this and how they properly regulate and oversee the growing, processing and dispensing.”

DHEC released the following statement on the possible legalization of medical marijuana:



DHEC is charged with implementing the laws made by the state legislature as they pertain to the agency. DHEC is aware of bills that have been introduced that address medical marijuana and has been following the issue. DHEC also has not prepared to implement the bills at this time since legislation has not passed. If any bills are made into law, DHEC will carry out its obligation to implement the law, including any requirements placed on the agency related to applications and licensing.

Davis says the argument against legalization because the federal government has banned or outlawed it isn’t exactly true.

“If you look what Congress has done every single year, the past several years, whenever they pass their annual budget they have a proviso in that budget with the appropriation to the Department of Justice saying none of the money that we’re appropriating to you, Department of Justice, can be used to challenge or attack or undermine laws in states that have authorized the medical use of cannabis,” he says. “So, you’ve got Congress every year saying to the states this is something that’s okay for you to do. You’ve also seen that in the Executive Branch and the Department of Justice. There are written directives to U.S. attorneys throughout the country saying, ‘Do not challenge states that have passed medical cannabis laws.’ And finally, you have the courts, the Judicial Branch, which has repeatedly held that authorizing it for medicinal use is within a state’s power.”

As it stands right now, the Compassionate Care Act has been voted out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and is on the calendar to be discussed on the Senate floor.

Davis says he has the votes to get it passed, it’s just a matter of when it’s going to be discussed.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

South Carolina Senate To Debate Medical Cannabis Bill​

The conservative state of South Carolina considers a limited medical cannabis bill.

South Carolina senators will debate a bill to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis this week after an eight-year effort to bring the proposal to the floor of the state Senate. If passed, Senate Bill 150 would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical cannabis products. A companion measure, House Bill 3361, is also pending in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Last week, Senators unanimously agreed to assign special order status to the bill, which faces strong opposition in deeply conservative South Carolina. As a legislative priority, senators will be required to approve or reject the bill before moving on to other legislation. Debate on the bill is expected to begin Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, according to media reports.

The measure, known as the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, was first proposed in 2015 by Republican Sen. Tom Davis. In 2018, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee advanced the bill to the Senate floor but senators opposed to the measure blocked the legislation from coming up for debate. At the close of the 2021 legislative session, Republican leaders promised Davis that the bill would come up for a vote this year.

“If you pound at the door long enough. If you make your case. If the public is asking for something, the state Senate owes a debate,” Davis told The Post and Courier. “The people of South Carolina deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue.”

South Carolina Medical Cannabis Bill Contains Strict Limits​

The Compassionate Care Act would allow patients with one or more qualifying health conditions to use cannabis medicinally. Qualifying debilitating medical conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease or disorder (including epilepsy), sickle cell disease, glaucoma, PTSD, autism, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cachexia, a condition causing a person to be home-bound that includes severe or persistent nausea, terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than one year, a chronic medical condition causing severe and persistent muscle spasms or a chronic medical condition for which an opioid is or could be prescribed based on accepted standards of care.

Smoking cannabis would not be allowed. Instead, patients would have access to medical marijuana products including vaporizers, topicals, and patches. Patients would be allowed to purchase up to a two-week supply of cannabis products at a time.

The bill also establishes rules for physicians to recommend medical cannabis and regulations for the production and sale of medical marijuana, including a requirement that cannabis dispensaries complete a licensing process every two years. Dispensaries would be required to contract with a state-licensed pharmacist, physician’s assistant or clinical practice nurse with training in the medicinal use of cannabis. Cannabis products would be subject to testing and labeling requirements and a seed-to-sale tracking system would be established to monitor transfers of medical marijuana products. Davis said the legislation would create the nation’s strictest medicinal cannabis program.

“I want to empower physicians. I want to help patients who could benefit from cannabis to alleviate their medical conditions,” Davis told reporters. “But I want it to be tightly regulated and controlled. I don’t want it to be a precursor to adult recreational use.”

Advocates Back Legislation​

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act is supported by medical cannabis advocates including Jill Swing, the founder and president of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance. She believes her daughter would benefit from medical cannabis.

“Mary Louise shouldn’t have to continue to suffer and other patients across the state shouldn’t continue to suffer when this medication is available in 36 other states,” saidSwing.

“I genuinely hope that every single Senator that walks into that chamber opens their minds and their hearts,” she added.

But Davis’ bill is opposed by law enforcement leaders, who cite public safety issues and the fear that permitting medical marijuana will lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis.

“If marijuana is medicine, it should be regulated as every other medicine is regulated. We are aware of no other medication that has to be approved by the General Assembly,” saidJarrod Bruder, executive director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association. “This (bill) includes a lot of other things — including vaping, including edibles. This is not going to your local pharmacy — it’s going to a dispensary. This is not being treated like every other medicine is.”

Kevin Tolson, the executive director of the law enforcement group, said in a statement that legalizing medical cannabis in South Carolina would lead to increased traffic accidents and financial crimes by cannabis businesses.

“I understand supporters of this bill are seeking to bring comfort and relief to friends and family members who are suffering from debilitating illnesses,” Tolson wrote. “But I can’t endorse or even ignore the attempt to provide relief through illegal methods, especially when those attempts will jeopardize public safety.”

Davis, however, believes that public opinion is on the side of reform. In December, a pollof 300 registered voters found that 54 percent favored legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis, with another 14 percent undecided on the issue.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be prohibited. Simply possessing the plant form of cannabis could be punished as a misdemeanor."

Another Potemkin Village of a med program, IMO.

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Officially Approved In Senate, Heads For House Consideration


A bill to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina officially passed the Senate on third reading on Thursday, sending the reform measure to the House of Representatives for consideration.


While final passage in the Senate was expected after Wednesday’s initial bipartisan vote to advance the bill from Sen. Tom Davis (R) on second reading, Thursday’s voice vote means the legislation will now be formally transmitted to the other body of the bicameral legislature.


The Compassionate Care Act was prefiled in late 2020 and passed out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee last March, but a lone senator blocked it from reaching the chamber floor in 2021. Since then, the Davis redoubled his efforts to get the bill across the finish line, arguing that South Carolina voters are ready what he’s repeatedly called “the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country.”.


The senator said last month that House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) agreed to “allow the bill to go through the House process” if it advanced through the Senate, but a spokesperson for the speaker later told The Charleston Post and Courier that “Sen. Davis doesn’t speak for Speaker Lucas.”


Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said earlier this week that it was too early to comment on the proposal, as changes were still being made by lawmakers. “This is one that’s going to depend on a lot of things,” he told a local FOX station, adding that he’ll wait to see the final version before deciding whether he would potentially sign or veto the bill if if were to arrive on his desk.


As amended and passed in the Senate, S. 150 would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be prohibited. Simply possessing the plant form of cannabis could be punished as a misdemeanor.


Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis include cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, autism, nausea in homebound or end-of-life patients, muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Terminal patients with less than a year to live would also qualify. However, regulators would be authorized to add additional conditions in the future.


The bill would also allow access among patients with “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care,” for example severe or persistent pain.


“After seven long years of fighting, this Senate vote is truly an historic moment. It brings hope for so many who desperately need safe, legal access to medical cannabis,” Jill Swing, executive director of the S.C. Compassionate Care Alliance, said in a press release. “I can never thank Senator Davis enough for his tireless efforts. But I am also grateful for all members of the Senate whose careful discernment brought them to a place of support for the Compassionate Care Act. SC House, here we come!”


Medical marijuana would be subject to the state’s six percent sales tax, and local jurisdictions would be able to levy an additional tax.


The final Senate passage comes after weeks of floor debate, and the consideration of dozens of amendments.


While Davis contested several more restrictive proposed changes on the floor, he was amenable to certain amendments, including one approved revision that makes it so the medical marijuana law would sunset entirely at the end 2028. Lawmakers would have to take affirmative action for the program to continue into the next year.


The bill was also amendment to clarify that DUI laws still apply to cannabis, and patients who refuse to submit to a blood test if suspected of impaired driving would lose their license for six months. It would also be a misdemeanor for patients and caretakers to have an open container of cannabis in a vehicle unless it’s in the trunk, glove compartment or other sealed section.


Rather than have conventional medical marijuana dispensaries that are in place in other legal states, the bill stipulates that there would be so-called cannabis pharmacies. The facilities would be required to have a pharmacist on site at all times, and the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy would promulgate business regulations.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

South Carolina Lawmakers Hear Senate-Passed Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee


A South Carolina House committee on Monday discussed a Senate-passed bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state, with members hearing hours of testimony from a wide range of voices including military veterans and pharmacists.

The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee took up the legislation from Sen. Tom Davis (R) one week after a subcommittee voted unanimously to advance it.

The Compassionate Care Act passed the full Senate in February. It was prefiled in late 2020 and passed out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee last March, but a lone senator blocked it from reaching the chamber floor in 2021. Since then, Davis has redoubled his efforts to get the bill across the finish line, arguing that South Carolina voters are ready what he’s repeatedly called “the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country.”

Davis used his testimony to address House colleagues’ concerns that had been raised earlier in the hearing, including worries about the possibility of increased impaired driving post-legalization.

“I keep hearing that if we authorize medical cannabis, there’s going to be an increase in impaired driving. We have had the experience at 37 states with this—decades of experience…saying there is a negative correlation between medical cannabis laws and incidents of impaired driving impaired driving goes down, down, unequivocally down.”

He also stressed that lawmakers should remove themselves from the medical process and let patients access a product in consultation with their doctors.

During his impassioned testimony at the close of the hearing, the senator also said that the origin of federal marijuana prohibition goes back to President Richard Nixon’s administration “wanting to get out the war protesters and wanting to stick it to them.”

“This is a medical bill that is so tight—is tighter in terms of the qualifying conditions, is tighter in terms of what you have to demonstrate to a doctor in order to become authorized, is tighter in regard to pharmacists being the ones that dispense it, is tighter in regard to the quality control measures, is tighter in regard to anything you can think of,” Davis said, “because we have had the benefit of eight years of working on this and looking at 37 states that have legalized this and see what’s worked and seeing what hasn’t worked.”

The panel did not vote on the bill but plans to do so on Thursday.

Also at Monday’s hearing, a number of military veterans testified about their own experiences with cannabis treatment, explaining that the pharmaceuticals they were prescribed to treat conditions they attribute to their service led to severe side effects, unlike cannabis.

One veteran who said he served 11 years in the Marine Corps and returned home with PTSD, insomnia and more became “mentally broken” and was near the brink of suicide

“In 2017, exhausted and out of options, I gained access to lab-tested pharmaceutical grade cannabis,” he said. “It removed anger from the equation and stimulated appetite. It allowed for healthy sleep. It facilitated digestion. It provided consistency in moods that allowed for clarity and focus. It reduced the chronic pain. Within three months of integrating cannabis, I was off all the medications prescribed by the [Department of Veterans Affairs].”

“Here’s the sad truth: If I continue to rely on the VA in a western model of medicine, I would not be standing here in front of you today,” he said. “For the first time in my 10-year struggle, I found something that was safe, effective and efficient for me. It was not a gateway. In fact, for me and for so many others, including other Marines, [cannabis was] an exit drug from the addictive pharmaceuticals that were prescribed to us.”

Davis said in January that House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) agreed to “allow the bill to go through the House process” if it advanced through the Senate, but a spokesperson for the speaker later told The Charleston Post and Courier that “Sen. Davis doesn’t speak for Speaker Lucas.” That said, the legislation does now seem to be moving forward in the chamber.

The House subcommittee that advanced the bill last week separately approved another bill last month that was amended to add marijuana to a list of investigational drugs that patients could lawfully access during epidemic or pandemic outbreaks.

Members of the panel also approved an amendment to Davis’s bill to allow podiatrists to recommend medical cannabis if they meet certain requirements. And they adopted a separate amendment making technical corrections and fixing drafting errors in the Senate-passed legislation.

At Monday’s hearing, a representative of of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, who also has a child with autism, said that “we work every day to break the barriers that inhibit individuals from realizing their full potential,” and that includes pushing for an end to cannabis criminalization.

“By really passing medicinal cannabis in South Carolina, it gives us the opportunity to open up therapeutic treatments,” she said, adding that the reform would ensure that “our law enforcement are able to focus on the crimes that are more high, high level crimes.”

Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said in February that it was too early to comment on the proposal, as changes were still being made by lawmakers. “This is one that’s going to depend on a lot of things,” he told a local FOX station, adding that he’ll wait to see the final version before deciding whether he would potentially sign or veto the bill if if were to arrive on his desk.

S. 150 would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Smokable products, as well as home cultivation of cannabis by patients or their caretakers, would be prohibited. Simply possessing the plant form of cannabis could be punished as a misdemeanor.

Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis include cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, autism, nausea in homebound or end-of-life patients, muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Terminal patients with less than a year to live would also qualify. However, regulators would be authorized to add additional conditions in the future.

The bill would also allow access among patients with “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care,” for example severe or persistent pain.

Medical marijuana would be subject to the state’s six percent sales tax, and local jurisdictions would be able to levy an additional tax.

Rather than have conventional medical marijuana dispensaries that are in place in other legal states, the bill stipulates that there would be so-called cannabis pharmacies. The facilities would be required to have a pharmacist on site at all times, and the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy would promulgate business regulations.

People with felony-level drug convictions would also be prevented from participating in the new industry for a period of 10 years under the proposal.

In-state businesses would also receive licensing priority when the market in established, with the intent being to prevent multi-state operators from dominating the industry.

Under the bill, 75 percent of tax revenue after expenditures would go to the state’s general fund, with another 10 percent going to drug use disorder treatment service providers, five percent going to state law enforcement, and the remainder going to cannabis research and drug education.

For the initial rollout, regulators would approve 15 cannabis cultivators, 30 processing facilities, a cannabis pharmacy for every 20 pharmacies in the state, five testing laboratories and four cannabis transporters. Lawmakers, rather than regulators, would be authorized to approve additional license types.

Local governments could ban medical cannabis businesses from operating in their jurisdictions under the amended bill, but otherwise the it says that local land use and zoning burdens “should be no greater for a cannabis-based business than for any other similar business.”

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control would oversee licensing and other regulations of the new industry. A newly established Medical Cannabis Advisory Board would be in charge of adding or removing qualifying conditions. The board would meet at least once per year and be led by a governor-appointed chairperson.

Davis has championed medical marijuana in South Carolina since 2014, and at a rally earlier this year, he brought out a binder that he said contained eight years of research into the issue. He said he would use the information to “take on every single argument that has been raised in opposition to this bill, and I’m going to show that they cannot stand in the way of facts and evidence.”

He’s also continued to push back against opposition to cannabis legalization from his own party, for example calling out an attack ad that was paid for by the South Carolina Republican Party.

The state GOP organization separately slammed a federal legalization bill from U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican who represents South Carolina in Congress.

A former White House chief of staff under President Donald Trump also recently called out his home state South Carolina Republican Party for opposing the medical marijuana bill medical marijuana. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s top aide for more than a year and a former congressman, called the legislation “something that merits discussion and reasoned analysis,” even if it’s not a proposal that is conventionally considered a conservative priority.

Davis referred to the maneuvers by his own party as “the elephant in the room” on the Senate floor as debate on the floor kicked off in January, saying he was offended by the misinformation and planned to rebut every misleading claim the group made.

“I’m going to go through every single legal argument that’s been put up there—lack of medical evidence, unintended social consequences—and take them all up and discuss them and refute them,” the senator said at the time.

A poll released last February found that South Carolina voters support legalizing medical marijuana by a five-to-one ratio. But the state does not have a citizen-led initiative process that has empowered voters in other states to get the policy change enacted.

Support for medical marijuana legalization among South Carolina residents has been notably stable, as a 2018 Benchmark Research poll similarly found 72 percent support for the reform, including nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Republicans. Davis said last year that if the legislature didn’t advance the reform, he’d propose a bill to put the question of medical marijuana legalization to voters through a referendum.

Also in 2018, 82 percent of voters in the state’s Democratic primary election voted in favor of medical cannabis legalization in a nonbinding ballot advisory vote.

Lawmakers prefiled four marijuana measures for the 2019 session, but they did not advance.
 

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