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South Carolina’s restrictive medical marijuana bill; cannabis health expert concerned

by Claire Weber

Wed, March 6th 2024 at 9:48 PM

Updated Wed, March 6th 2024 at 7:48 AM

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South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, begins debate on a medical marijuana bill he has pushed for 10 years on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, begins debate on a medical marijuana bill he has pushed for 10 years on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — The debate on medical marijuana continues in South Carolina.

A Senate bill once again has made its way to the Statehouse where a former version died in 2023. This year’s version is being called the most restrictive cannabis law in the country.

“It’s not California, it’s not Colorado, it’s not a liberal state’s cannabis bill. It is a conservative state’s medical cannabis bill with lots of regulation and lots of medical professional involvement,” said State Sen. Tom Davis (R, Beaufort and Jasper) author of the bill.

Sen. Davis has been working to pass a medical cannabis bill for the last decade. His latest version of the Compassionate Care Act now faces debate and amendments in the House.

If signed into law, South Carolina could join the list of 38 states legalizing medical marijuana.

Read more: “Legislation to legalize medical marijuana falls short, no chance for passage until 2024.”

“Of those 38 states that have authorized and empower physicians and authorized cannabis use by patients for certain medical conditions, none of those states have attempted to repeal those laws. None of those states have attempted to roll those laws back,” Sen. Davis said.

The senator’s highly restrictive bill would only allow access for patients with specific conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, autism and diagnoses related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Smoking cannabis would remain illegal, and people would have to use methods like oils, patches, vaporizers or salves. Sen. Davis said the choice to not legalize smoking medicinal cannabis came after conversations he had early on with state law enforcement.

Opponents argue passing the law could lead to increased recreational use, but those in favor have shut that idea down.

“It will be regulated by medical professionals. It’ll be prescribed by the same doctors that we trust to prescribe opioids which are harming people. So, I think this is a good move, it will expand access to healthcare for many patients across our state,” said State Senator Deon Tedder.

Read more: “SC senator proposes bill to remove marijuana smell as cause in traffic stops.”

However, a retired cannabis nurse worries about some of the restrictions.

Patients would be required to pay for fingerprints and background checks for both the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Those between 18 and 23 years old would also be required to seek approval from a secondary physician, not just one.

“For those patients that will meet the requirements and are able to be fingerprinted and pass a background check. Even though this bill is highly restricted, it will benefit a select number of South Carolina residents,” said Mike Harvey BSN RN (retired), who specialized in cannabis science and therapeutics.

If passed, the bill would have a five-year sunset clause and lawmakers would have to take it up for discussion once again for it to continue.


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