1st Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee Meeting on S366

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The first senate subcommittee meeting discussing the Compassionate Care Act took place in Gressette Building, room 105 at 10:00 am on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Senator Davis, the subcommittee chairman, articulated in his introduction that he wanted: a tightly-defined medical cannabis bill that empowers physicians to allow patient use of cannabis for specific debilitating conditions when empirical evidence substantiates the benefits. He wants to ensure that the bill is clearly a medical bill in terms of substance as well as optics, and is not a precursor to adult use.

 

After a summary of the original bill, Senator Davis outlined numerous proposed amendments to the bill. Although the original was a tightly-regulated and conservative bill, he took further steps to incorporate even more revisions. These amendments were based on specific feedback he gathered from various organizations such as the South Carolina Medical Association, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, The Sheriffs Association, Chamber of Commerce, Banking, DHEC and the Attorney General’s office to name a few. He expressed that he wanted further hearings to address specific areas of the bill and those amendments.

 

Members of the subcommittee were each asked to delve into different sections of the bill and to bring their findings back to the subcommittee. Senator Corbin will focus on security/seed to sale issues, Senator Hutto will look into physician specialty, Senator Gambrel on workplace control, Senator Margie Bright Matthews on law enforcement and DUI concerns, Senator Campbell on financial implications and Senator Kimpson on qualifying conditions.

A motion was made to accept the amendments as a “working document” but did elaborate a bit on concerns regarding a few of them. CSC represents patients throughout the state and will be working toward the largest number of qualifying patients gaining legal access to medical marijuana. As such, we have some important concerns regarding these amendments. We also feel strongly that the qualifying conditions list should not be limited any further.

 

Most importantly regarding the amendments, we do not agree that the recommending doctor should have to authorize a specific quantity of cannabis. The more states try to mirror federal requirements for prescribing medications, the more likely the physician is placed at risk of violating federal law. The bottom line is that these burdensome requirements place doctors at risk and it can undermine a program when doctors are fearful of reprisal. Click HERE for more information.

 

Another concern we have is an amendment requiring doctors to register with the state before making a recommendation to a patient. This causes delay. We need immediate protections for a patient with a doctor’s certification so patients won’t have to wait many months or even years in order to get relief. It is acceptable to require registration of the recommending doctors, but it’s important that that requirement does not nullify the immediate patient protections.

 

No public testimony was given at the first hearing as it was administrative in nature. The next subcommittee hearing will be on Wednesday, March 13. There is still a good chance the bill will get through the full Senate medical affairs committee by the crossover date. However, to pass in 2019 it must pass through the full Senate by April 10th which is the crossover date. The great news is that we are in year one of a two-year session. If it does not make the crossover date, it will be taken back up in January 2020 at the same point it reached in 2019.

 

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