Crossover Date Has Arrived

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There are several key dates during the often-complex process of passing legislation, and today, April 10, is one of them. Known as the “crossover date,” it is the date by which a bill must pass out of the chamber from which it started. If a bill starts in the House, it has pass out of the House by April 10. If a bill started in the Senate, it would need to pass out of the Senate by that same date.   That date applies to our bill, just as all the others presented in the state legislature.

 Both versions of the Compassionate Care Act made steady progress this year. The Senate version of the bill recently advanced out of the Medical Affairs Committee on a vote of 8 to 6 in support of the measure.  This was a big win for advocates and patients in South Carolina who need this medicine as an alternative treatment. The tide has changed, and the most conservative legislators realize that it is not a matter of if, but when, we have a medical marijuana law in our state. The House version of the bill, H3521 earned important additional support from lawmakers in the House, but it did not advance, due to the political climate and the influence of Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas’ and his control of the committees involved.

Because neither bill got a positive floor vote before the crossover deadline, the measures will not be able to advance further this year. However, we are very encouraged by the amount of support both were able to gain this year. This sets us up to begin again next year with more allies and more support than ever before.

The Compassionate Care Act is a companion bill (H3521 and S212); our state’s medical cannabis bill. If this bill becomes law, it will allow patients with a bonafide relationship and a doctor’s recommendation as well as with specific conditions, access to legal medical marijuana.

Although it is discouraging that patients will be suffering for a longer period, hearing of patients passing away that might have been saved, we must re-direct these energies and persevere in our efforts. A new bill will be introduced in January when the new session begins, mirroring the provisions we ended with this year and advocates will hit the ground running. Please continue to contact your legislators and tell them your personal stories about how people you know and love can be relieved of pain and gain a better quality of life. It’s not too late to make a difference!

Education is key in preparing our advocates and legislators. Please attend our upcoming educational symposium in Columbia on April 18th where we will hear about break-through cannabis studies from Dr. Nagarkatti, Director for Research at USC. Bob Morgan, a regulator of a successful medical cannabis program in Illinois, will be sharing his knowledge with us and address regulatory and tracking concerns. Senator Tom Davis of Beaufort, sponsor of S212, and House Minority Leader, Todd Rutherford, will be discussing the new amendments and details of The Compassionate Care Act.

Please join us and encourage your state legislators to attend as well.

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