Advocating for a Better Tomorrow

Compassionate South Carolina wants to encourage all citizens of South Carolina who are wanting to create a better tomorrow for our great state to approach every situation with a positive attitude, even when this may seem difficult. Fighting for change is never easy, many times you will be faced with adversaries that place themselves in the path of positive progress simply because change is frightening. It’s how we handle those situations that will determine the outcome. We encourage everyone to approaches all difficult situation from the stance of education. To educate anyone on a topic you first must start a healthy dialogue. Out of a healthy dialogue an advocate can quickly build a bridge. Once that bridge is built you will always be able to visit each other and hopefully one day meet somewhere in the middle. If you don’t construct the bridge then you will lose the opportunity to educate that person forever and remain on separate sides of a river bank. This is a missed opportunity for everyone. Compassionate South Carolina wants all our people to start building long lasting relationships not only with likeminded people but also people who may not have the same views as you do on an issue.

The current cause we are working on is The Compassionate Care Act which will allow patients with debilitating conditions access to medical marijuana. This bill will set up a tightly restrictive program that will dispense cannabis in medicinal forms (pills, time release patches, inhalers, oral solutions, topicals etc.). This program will set up a tracking and dispensing model like the current pharmaceutical programs. Each seed, plant, material, and product will be accounted for through a technology driven program. When a patient buys a product from any dispensary that product goes into a state ran database program that tracks the exact amount the patient is using and will not allow a patient to access more than their allotted amount. It is the same model of tracking that pharmaceutical companies use in their production, manufacturing, and dispensing model.

On this journey to effect change people will tell you we need to have doctors prescribe cannabis for it to be effectively used. This is a great argument and doctors should be able to prescribe cannabis however since the federal government continues to keep cannabis as a schedule 1 drug this simply cannot happen. A scheduling of 1 means that Cannabis is the most dangerous drug and has no medicinal value. This scheduling makes it impossible for doctors to prescribe medical cannabis. Even though there is thousands of studies and research proving that cannabis has medicinal value the government will still not remove cannabis from this scheduling. Some people don’t know that Meth and Cocaine are scheduled 2 which means in the eyes of the government they have more medicinal value than the cannabis plant. A key talking point on this subject would be that the American Academy of Sciences recently looked at over 10,000 studies that have been done on cannabis as medicine and in January of 2017 concluded that cannabis does have medical benefits for pain, cancer, epilepsy and an array of other conditions. Link to the Academy of Sciences.  However, this still has not swayed the federal government into moving cannabis off schedule 1. What the compassionate care act will do is allow doctors to legally write recommendations for cannabis without having them risk their license to practice, to most people a recommendation and prescription is one in the same. The legislation also states that a doctor must have a bona fide relationship with a patient before writing a recommendation and a patient must have a debilitating condition that is listed on the conditions list in the compassionate care act to qualify for the program.

The next concern you may be confronted with is that this will lead to recreational use, that teens will be more accepting of using marijuana for recreational purposes and that this is “the camel’s nose under the tent!” Again, all these are public safety issues that can be viable concerns for the safety of South Carolina citizens however the statistics do not support these claims. In states that have passed comprehensive medical marijuana programs the studies show the exact opposite has occurred teen use has declined.

Another topic that continues to come up is this legislation will lead to the legalization of recreational use. Compassionate South Carolina does not support the recreational use of cannabis and it needs to be addressed that to pass recreation use in South Carolina the general assembly would have to allow it. South Carolina does not have a ballot initiative and every recreational bill to date that has been passed was done so by a ballot initiative. The same legislators who are worried about a recreational bill getting passed would have to pass it themselves. Now there has been an argument that states have not been able to control their medical programs and such have had to legalize recreational which may have been the case in a few of the first states who ever legalized medical cannabis but that was before technology was created and tightly regulated programs where legislatively enacted, programs identical to the Compassionate Care Act where no room for diversion exists. A good example of a conservative medical program that is functioning well would be Illinois.

We can now look at several states who have enacted programs in the last several years and see that medical programs are more apt to fight full legalization, patients and medical business owners are the largest opposition to passing adult use. They do not want to see medicine be taken away from them or be taxed to the point they cannot afford it. So, creating a tightly restrictive medical program that is functional and allows patients access would be the best thing to fight legalization.

Finally, one of the last concern with the opposition is that marijuana is a gateway drug. The facts are that the addiction rate of marijuana is 9% which is the same as caffeine or chocolate. Most doctors who have researched this issue will tell you that marijuana is not physically addictive but it can be psychologically additive which means your body can’t possibly become addicted to marijuana like it can opiates or other drugs that are readily available and currently prescribed by physicians daily. The only way most experts say marijuana can become a gateway drug is when you leave it in the hands of your local street dealer and not regulate it.  Your local street dealer keeps an assortment of other drugs he sells. When a patient visits a regulated dispensary to buy legal medicine that dispensary only sales medical grade cannabis they don’t try to upsell you a more addictive more dangerous drug to hook you, however a drug dealer will for sure try to upsell his “clients” because he wants them to continue to come back and even he knows marijuana is not going to hook them like heroin would. This is the way the neighborhood drug dealer ensures return customers. Once we take cannabis out of the hands of the local street dealer and into a tightly regulated dispensing medical program we remove any chance of it becoming a gateway drug.

Compassionate South Carolina encourages everyone who wants to get involved with getting the South Carolina Compassionate Care Program in place to sign up for our newsletter’s, Follow us on facebook and join us at one of our upcoming events.

Compassionate SC also provides several printable documents you can utilize and take with you when you are meeting with anyone about this issue you can find those resources here. We look forward to working with everyone of you heading into the future to improve the lives of patients in South Carolina.

Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering ~Dalai Lama