Medical marijuana in South Carolina: Republican lawmaker says bill could pass in 2021

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Right now, 36 states have legalized medical cannabis in some form. Advocates hope the Palmetto State is next.

Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) prefiled S.150 the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act this week. Sen. Davis said he has been pushing for legalization of medical cannabis since 2014 and believes next year it has a chance to pass.

“I have a majority of state Senators who will vote for this and I have a majority of House members who will vote for this bill,” Davis said.

He called his bill the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country. “We limit the qualifying conditions to medical conditions for which there is empirical evidence that medical cannabis can be a medicinal benefit.”

That list includes: cancer, multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease or disorder (including epilepsy), sickle cell anemia, 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 less than one-year life expectancy, 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 standards of care.

Davis said the bill has limitations in place. “We’ve gone ahead and eliminated smoking of cannabis from the bill. The methods of consumption are oils, things you can take orally and doesn’t involve burning,” he said.

Other limitations include not allowing patients to drive, operate a boat, train, or aircraft, or undertake any task that would be negligent or professional malpractice while under the influence of cannabis. Patients and caregivers would not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

According to Davis, in the bill cardholders and medical cannabis establishment staffers who break the law can have their ID cards revoked and, where applicable, face civil and/or criminal penalties.

The State Attorney General and SLED have voiced their opposition to medical marijuana in South Carolina in the past. We reached out to them for their response to Davis’ prefiled bill and they could not comment on the piece of legislation until they have reviewed it.

Senator Davis said cannabis would only be grown and processed by licensees in a secure, enclosed facility, using a seed-to-sale tracking system. DHEC and SLED must approve the plans.

Davis said according to survey’s the public is in favor of allowing medical cannabis. He said, “The people want it – I can’t think of any other issue in South Carolina where 75% of Republicans and Democrats in agree on something.”

According to the bill, medical cannabis would be taxed at the same rate as non-prescription medications, 6%. After covering the costs of administering the program, revenue will be distributed as follows: 3% for research on detecting impaired driving (until it is no longer needed); 2% to drug safety education, 5% to medical cannabis research, and 90% to the state’s General Fund.

Lawmakers can prefile more bills on December 16th. To see a full list of prefiled legislation click or tap here.

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