The sponsor of South Carolina’s medical cannabis legislation believes the reforms will pass this session after the bill passed the Senate Medical Affairs Committee last week by a 9 to 5 margin, the Associated Press reports.
Sen. Tom Davis (R) said he plans to meet personally with every senator that remains opposed in order to build support for the reforms.
“We cannot wait any longer for these people to have their suffering alleviated. It is immoral. … They are howling in pain and we are deny them something that their doctor wants to give them because of some political reason back in 1971 that President Nixon wanted to stick it to a bunch of hippies.” – Davis to the AP
Davis said he has refined the proposal to appeal to conservative lawmakers, including requiring physicians to meet with patients in person before recommending them to the program, checking potential patients for a history of substance abuse, and having a written treatment plan. The bill includes just five qualifying conditions: cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, and autism. Davis also indicated he removed the smoking provisions included in the original version of the bill, which now only allows the use of oils.
Senate President Harvey Peeler said that while Davis “has been tugging at [his] heart” and “makes some very, very good points,” his “head tells [him] to vote against” the proposal.
Gov. Henry McMaster (R), a former prosecutor, said during a Post and Courier of Charleston podcast last week that Davis “makes a very convincing argument” on medical cannabis legalization.
“I try to keep an open mind. There may be a way to do it, I don’t know,” McMaster said in the interview. “But I’m open to hearing more about it because it’s clear that it alleviates a lot of suffering. The trick is how to keep that from turning loose marijuana production in the state that would cause damage.”
The bill is also opposed by the South Carolina Medical Association and the State Law Enforcement Division.
The Senate must approve the legislation by next week if it has any chance of getting through the House before the session ends.
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