South Carolina’s Senate To Hold Hearing on Legalizing Medical Marijuana Within the State

Toby Hazlewood

The proposals are still extremely restricted

South Carolina's State Senate is meeting on April 4 for a rare Monday meeting, to consider proposals to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

In early February, the South Carolina Compassionate Care act was approved by the Senate, which contained provisions to legalize marijuana for select medical uses, but this has yet to be formalized into any law.

The meeting on April 4 is of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee - the only committee with a Democratic majority and a Democratic chair. This could signify that the bill has a high chance of approval when it's considered by them.

A restricted legalization

South Carolina is one of only four states (together with Kansas, Wyoming and Idaho) where marijuana is currently fully illegal. While Republican Senator Tom Davis has been championing this bill for a number of years, the provisions within it are still quite restricted.

The illnesses that could be treated using marijuana under the law include cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia and autism. The drug could be obtained only through specially chosen pharmacies and it would remain illegal to smoke it - the marijuana could only be administered via oils, patches, salves or a vaporizer and doctors would only be able to prescribe it two-weeks' supply at a time.

The bill being considered is a step in the right direction for those who want to see medical marijuana legally available in South Carolina. However, it seems like the restrictions may well limit the benefit that can be received by those taking it.

Notably, the list of acceptable conditions doesn't include critical pain usually treated with addictive opioids or psychological conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Marijuana versus opioids

On June 15th of last year, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed a bill expanding the availability of medical marijuana for cancer patients, as well as veterans and others suffering from PTSD.

While the bill was approved with strong support, it underwent some modifications. Most notably, it originally proposed an increase on the permissable THC limit from 0.5% to 5%, but the cap was dropped back down to 1% - a lower level of potency.

Crucially as relates to fentanyl and other opioids that are extremely addictive and problematic in society when they lead to addiction, the Texas bill had previously also included application of medical marijuana for sufferers of chronic pain that would usually be treated via opioids, but this was later removed.

If Texas had allowed the use of medical marijuana in place of opioids for treatment of chronic pain and PTSD, it might have meant that some of those patients forced to use fentanyl for pain relief could have instead used medical marijuana - far less addictive and potentially as effective.

Perhaps lessons can be learned in South Carolina if the Senate wants to really benefit citizens in allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes.

What do you think about the potential legalization of medical marijuana in South Carolina? Are you in favor of the move, or against it? Let me know in the comment section below.

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