Amendments to the SC Compassionate Care Act S212: What You Need to Know
Our objective is to provide safe and legal access to every qualified S.C. patient who can be helped by medical cannabis. Do you agree?
When two parties are in disagreement and neither one is willing to be flexible, no solution is attainable. Stubbornness prevents progress. Our legislative champions made hard decisions with certain provisions in order to gain the support they think we need to win, whether this year or next. CSC was consulted and dug into the issues with allied lawmakers and those presenting them. We believe the amended bill remains an excellent piece of legislation that will protect many thousands of suffering patients that today would be considered criminals. CSC worked with lawmakers on the bill language to help ensure they addressed concerns without unreasonably burdening patients. This is a careful balance and essential to getting to our goal, and it is something we must keep in mind throughout a difficult process.
Here are a few of the key changes:
- The bona fide physician-patient relationship now mirrors the definition that is part of the standard for doctors to issue a prescription. This is consistent with existing law and helped gain key support.
- Dispensaries must contract with a pharmacist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist, who must complete a medical cannabis CME. He or she must be available to consult with patients if needed, which can be by video, which will help keep costs down. The medical professional can work for more than one facility. Also, anyone who dispenses cannabis must take an approved educational course. Education of the medical professionals who dispense cannabis is important and will help patients in the long run. Would you want to take a medication without a means to get your questions answered by a knowledgeable professional?
- The list of qualifying conditions has been revised. Specific conditions have been taken out such as: HIV/AIDS, ALS, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Parkinson’s, neural-tube defects, and severe and debilitating pain. However, a person may qualify if they have a neurological disease or disorder or “any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition for which an opioid is currently prescribed or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.” Cancer qualifies if it requires treatment … have you heard of any cancer that does NOT require treatment? Please look carefully and don’t jump to conclusions if you see a condition that is not there anymore because it very well may fall into an alternate category, such as conditions that can be treated by opiates, neurological diseases, or severe nausea — under some circumstances.
- Smoking cannabis would not be allowed and is punishable by a fine of up to $150. This was essential to securing the votes that will be needed to pass the House — which may be next year. Cannabis will be available in many other forms, including vaporization, which are less harmful and do not stir such opposition. Let us not cut off our nose to spite our face by insisting on provisions that will stand in the way of passing the bill.
- Law enforcement can inspect any location where marijuana is grown, packaged, or processed, without a warrant, which may arouse some concern. However, only DHEC will be allowed to search dispensaries, where patients will be present. Please also keep in mind that these facilities will be set up like Fort Knox with many cameras. This open-door policy will facilitate a great deal of monitoring and accountability for both teams and was also a necessary concession to build support.
- Medical cannabis is taxed at the same rate as over-the-counter medications, and these revenues will primarily be funneled back into law enforcement and education. Medical cannabis would be subject to a retail sales tax of 6%. After covering administrative costs, the revenue generated from fees and taxes will be allocated to SLED’s 46 sheriffs’ offices (50%), education (25%), and the General Fund (25%). While we would prefer no taxation at all, this did harmonize cannabis with other non-prescription drugs, and it was also important to build support.
Now is the time to put politics aside and do what is right for the health and welfare of most South Carolina residents. To learn more, visit https://CSC.Health.
A full list of the current amendments may be found on our website at: (link)
A bill summary with the amendments included may be found at (link)
While we understand that some may be disappointed in some of the amendments, we are encouraged that the number of “yes” votes is growing steadily, which is directly related to these negotiations. The changes, while sometimes less than ideal, bring us closer to the day when South Carolinas seriously ill patients will have safe and legal access to cannabis. Please ask your lawmakers and Speaker Lucas to support the bills, as amended, and to stand up for patients!