Pubdate: Sun, 10 Apr 2016
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2016 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Note: Rarely prints LTEs received from outside its circulation area


Nearly half of the states have approved the medical use of marijuana, 
as prescribed by a physician, recognizing its therapeutic value for 
patients with long term pain from cancer, seizures, PTSD, multiple 
sclerosis, AIDS and other ailments.

Not South Carolina, though. Not yet.

Members of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday expressed 
their sympathy for those South Carolinians who could benefit from 
having marijuana medically prescribed for pain or nausea.

Then they voted to kill the bill, after first rejecting an amendment 
that would have resolved many of the issues raised by those who had 
opposed the bill, including law enforcement officials.

The amendment would have tightened licensing and oversight for 
cultivation, distribution and sales.

Committee chairman Harvey Peeler's explanation?

"This bill would put us one step closer to Colorado."

No, it wouldn't.

Colorado is one of four states, plus Washington, D.C., that have 
legalized marijuana for recreational use. In each case that was done 
as the result of a voter initiative or referendum.

South Carolina voters don't have the option of voter initiative, and 
even if they did, the notion that such an ill-advised proposal would 
be approved by the largely conservative voters of this state is 
nothing short of ludicrous.

What the medical marijuana bill would do is put South Carolina a step 
closer to the majority view that those who are ill should have broad 
medical options available for their relief.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have approved the 
use of medical marijuana. Thirteen states have approved the use of 
cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative. South Carolina joined those 
states allowing limited use of cannabidiol in 2014.

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, pointed out that a Winthrop University 
poll late last year that showed 70 percent of likely voters in the 
Feb. 20 S.C. GOP presidential primary endorsed legal use of marijuana 
for medical purposes.

More than 80 percent of S.C. Democrats supported medical marijuana in 
a ballot question in 2014.

Sen. Davis said: "It's increasingly obvious that it contains 
qualities that provide therapeutic benefit and give real relief. 
Doctors can provide opiates to patients, but this is something much 
more benign and beneficial than the opioids that are often prescribed."

Sen. Davis pointed out that his bill was written after extensive 
hearings and discussions with the S.C. Department of Health and 
Environmental Control. He also said that law enforcement officials 
who oppose the bill have refused to meet with him to discuss it.

Nevertheless, Sen. Davis said he would continue his efforts to pass 
the bill. Meanwhile, there is a House version of the bill, sponsored 
by Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, that should get more favorable 

Lawmakers should recognize that support of medical marijuana isn't a 
"soft on drugs" position. Rather it recognizes that marijuana has a 
proven medical value in certain instances.

The option should be available in South Carolina, particularly for 
those with chronic illnesses accompanied by pain that responds 
favorably to its use.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom