Medical marijuana debate continues in South Carolina

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State senators are working their way closer to a vote on a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Today’s debate was nearly eight hours, and lawmakers say they’re prepared for late nights ahead to try to get a vote on this bill by the end of the week.

Now on week three of debate on this bill to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina, senators are starting to significantly work their way through and vote on amendments to the bill.

The day started with more than 40 amendments proposed, and the potential new legislation would not allow for smoking marijuana, but only for use in the form of oils, vapes, salves, and tinctures.

People would also only be eligible for a prescription if a doctor has diagnosed them in person with one of 13 medical conditions.

“Many of those groups — for instance, NORML South Carolina and other pro-marijuana groups — have disavowed this bill because they say we have set back any chance to have this made for adult use or recreation by being so strict, by being so regulated,” Senator Tom Davis (R) said.

Most amendments were tabled or carried over for later consideration, but senators did spend more than two hours debating and eventually adopting an amendment that would restrict the bill even more – including requiring pharmacists to play a bigger role in dispensing the drug.

Amendments also removed “dispensaries” from the bill’s language – replacing it with “cannabis pharmacies” instead.

“You must have that pharmacist present. You have a pharmacist that has to be in good standing with the state pharmacy board. You have the State Pharmacy Board promulgating regulations, and only a physician can authorize, no longer a PA or a nurse,” Senator Josh Kimbrell (R) said.

If passed, the bill would head over to the House of Representatives, and then the governor’s desk if it passes the House.

The governor said today it’s too early to know if he’d sign or veto medical marijuana legislation.

“It’s premature to say. Have to see what’s in a bill, if there is one,” Governor Henry McMaster said.

Senators will return tomorrow to continue the debate.

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