S212 Moves One Step Forward
South Carolina patients who can benefit from medical cannabis are one step closer to attaining a better quality of life through a comprehensive medical marijuana program. The full Medical Affairs committee in the Senate voted 8 to 6 this morning in favor of passing an amended version of bill to the Senate floor for debate. This is a win and we thank all those who worked hard on this critical process.
But there is work yet to be done – and unfortunately, it is increasingly looking like this effort will continue into next year. While it is at least possible it could pass this year (and miracles do happen), the odds are not great, and we must continue to be diligent and active as the fight carries on.
The challenge this year is that despite the progress made by the legislation in the Senate, we are concerned the bill will not move far enough to beat the deadlines before us in both chambers. First, we need to get passage in the full Senate before April 10, which is already difficult at this point. Add to it the passage in the House before the end of the session on May 10, and its even more challenging.
We at CSC, as supporters of the bill, are concerned that key members of the law enforcement community are lobbying against the bill, despite numerous safeguards and several amendments that specifically addressing many of their concerns. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel has repeatedly claimed that marijuana does not have medical value, despite what the medical professionals said in testimony on these very bills. Surprising many, he has also claimed he is unable to support legislation that might violate federal law, despite the fact that Congress and President Trump last week passed a spending bill that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.
There are currently 29 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, with effective medical marijuana laws on the books. As South Carolinians we should have the same medical treatment options available as residents of these states. Law enforcement concerns have been addressed and no doubt lawmakers will continue to fine tune provisions as stakeholders, including law enforcement, continue to be part of the conversation. But these changes should never be at the expense of our patients, who deserve lawful access to the treatment they need, or those who care for them.
Thanks for your assistance and support. Great win today. Let’s keep up the momentum!