The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved a medical marijuana bill on Thursday, March 29th, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, known as S 212 in the Senate, would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with a recommendation from their doctors.
“There are thousands of South Carolinians who are suffering from serious illness and they’ve already waited far too long,” said Janel Ralph, executive director of Compassionate South Carolina, whose eight-year-old daughter has a rare seizure disorder. “A large majority of voters want to see a compassionate medical cannabis law pass and lawmakers should remain focused on this issue. It isn’t going away. We hope the Senate will take up the measure for a floor vote without further delay, so that patients may finally have relief.”
Despite the progress made by the legislation in the Senate, advocates are concerned the bill will not move far enough through the legislature to get a floor vote in both chambers before the session ends. The House has declined to hear its own medical marijuana bill so far this year, and the deadline for it to advance is April 10.
Supporters of the bill are also upset that key members of the law enforcement community are lobbying against the bill, despite numerous safeguards and several amendments that addressed concerns. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel has repeatedly claimed that marijuana does not have medical value, in contrast to testimony from prominent medical professionals. 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.
“It is presumptuous,