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A close-up shot of a cannabis plant grown under Washington's I-502 market regulations.

Rory Savatgy

The South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee has advanced a medical cannabis bill setting set up a comprehensive program to the Senate for full chamber consideration. The measure would allow program access for patients with qualifying conditions and would task the Department of Health and Environmental Control with regulating and licensing cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing laboratories.

However, advocates led by Compassionate South Carolina are concerned that the measure won’t make it to both chambers for a vote this session as the House has yet to hear its own version of the measure. The deadline for the bill to advance in the chamber is Apr. 10.

“There are thousands of South Carolinians who are suffering from serious illness and they’ve already waited far too long. A large majority of voters want to see a compassionate medical cannabis law pass and lawmakers should remain focused on this issue. It isn’t going away. We hope the Senate will take up the measure for a floor vote without further delay, so that patients may finally have relief.” – Janel Ralph, executive director of Compassionate South Carolina, in a press release.

The bill is opposed by members of the state’s law enforcement community; although, the former executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Jeff Moore says the opposition by his former colleagues is “presumptuous, irresponsible, and arrogant for law enforcement officials to take it upon themselves to determine what medical resources should be available” for South Carolinians “who are suffering and need relief.”

“Law enforcement should enforce the laws of this state and adhere to the will of the people of South Carolina and not hide behind a dubious federal policy. My son is a combat veteran who shouldn’t have to be exiled and forced to live in another state (Michigan) to get the appropriate treatment that helps him.” – Moore, in a press release.

The bill was previously amended to prohibit smoking under the regime. A Sept. 2016 Winthrop poll found 78 percent of voters supported medical cannabis access in the state.

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