COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – This week cannabis legislation has taken center stage in South Carolina and national politics.
It began on Monday when former U.S. Representative and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham announced his intentions to push for medical and recreational marijuana legalization if elected.
On Tuesday, Governor Henry McMaster expressed opposition to recreational use, but a willingness to look at medical cannabis.
Wednesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unveiled a bill which would decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana nationally.
State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) expressed confidence in the medical marijuana bill he filed last session in light of the governor’s comments.
The bill would clear the way for those with certain illnesses to use medical cannabis, and it would not allow for smoking.
“Legalizing medical cannabis is about empowering doctors, it’s about allowing doctors to do what they think is in their patients’ best interest. I think [McMaster]’s right to acknowledge that decision, and I applaud him for the leadership that he’s giving us on this,” he said.
Davis said he has the votes in the South Carolina Senate to pass it out of the chamber, and said he expects bipartisan support in the House.
The bill made it out committee last Spring.
Recreational marijuana appears to be farther off, with Davis expressing opposition.
“Quite frankly I think having that debate clouds the debate over empowering doctors,” he said.
SC NORML Executive Director Scott Weldon said recreational legalization is likely a way off, but touted the benefits of reform.
“The harms that come with a marijuana arrest are greater than any effects that the plant itself could have,” he said.
SLED’s spokesperson reaffirmed Chief Mark Keel’s opposition to marijuana legalization in any form. He sent a statement on behalf of Keel reading:
“My position on the legalization of marijuana, medical or otherwise, is well established and has not changed. Legalizing marijuana in any compacity is a public safety concern and I know of no other proposed legislation that has the potential for negatively impacting S. C. as we know it today. As I recently said during this year’s debate regarding medical marijuana, when medicine goes through the normal FDA approval process, no legislation is needed. Doctor’s cannot legally prescribe it. Pharmacists cannot legally dispense it. There is no way to accurately dose it. I support continued clinical trials, research, and only forms of medication that are legally obtained, FDA approved, prescribed by a physician, and dispensed by a pharmacist with traditional dosing instructions for patients to follow. This is what medicine looks like in the 21st Century.”
A 2017 study by the Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine did find evidence of therapeutic benefits from medical cannabis, but also cited dangers of consumption and driving.
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