Support is building in South Carolina for medical cannabis reform. The Compassionate Care Act has consistently passed the state Senate in recent years but has failed to make it to the Governor’s desk. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing opioid crisis, some powerful state Senators are putting their names on the bill, WPDE reports.
“Ten years ago I would have said never, five years ago I would have said ‘yeah maybe ten years from now’, and last year I would have said, ‘Yeah I think we’re going to get it next year.’ The opioid crisis has really brought to light the idea to bring an alternative to opioid and legal heroin as I call it.” — Sen. Goldfinch Jr., in a statement to WPDE
Joining previous sponsors Sens. Tom Davis and Brad Hutto, Finance Committee Chair Sen. Hugh Leatherman and Sens. Luke Rankin, Dick Harpootlian, Gerald Malloy, and Katrina Shealy all added their names to the bill this year.
Sen. Davis introduced the Compassionate Care Act in late 2020. Although the bill does not allow for the smoking of medical cannabis, it does name ten qualifying conditions and open the door for terminal patients with less than one year to live to use medical cannabis. Addressing the opioid crisis directly, the bill says doctors can recommend medical cannabis for conditions opiates could be used to treat.
According to the CDC, 8,835 South Carolinians died from an opioid-related overdose in 2018 — a rate of 17.1 — which was a significant increase from the 628 opioid-related deaths in 2016. Synthetic opioid overdose from fentanyl or fentanyl analogs saw the greatest increase.
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