Legislators promote medical marijuana bill

Legislators promote medical marijuana bill
August 21 09:44 2018 Print This Article

Three state legislators addressed the East Cooper Republican Club Monday about the future of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, legislation which would allow South Carolina doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients. Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) was the sponsor of the Senate bill which cleared the Medical Affairs Committee in March but never reached the Senate floor during the last legislative session. Representatives Lin Bennett (R-West Ashley) and Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island) both advocated for the legislation, along with activist Jill Swing and psychiatrist Chris Pelic. Davis and Representative Peter McCoy (R-James Island) will pre-file medical marijuana legislation in December.

Some version of medical marijuana legislation has been adopted by 30 states to date. Davis has researched legislation from other states, as well as working with the medical community and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to ensure that there is a quality control system in place for the marijuana and that law enforcement agencies can verify that users have a valid prescription. The marijuana would be available to authorized patients in pill form, as a topical oil, tincture or through a vaporizing device. Smoking the marijuana would remain prohibited.

Swing has been active in the medical marijuana movement for many years. She heads an organization called the South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance. Her organization was instrumental in the passage of the legislation in 2014 which allowed the use of CBD oil as a non-prescription pain relief treatment. She has a 10-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy who suffers from frequent seizures. When her daughter received medical marijuana supervised by a physician in Maine, her seizures were controlled and she was able to stand independently and speak clearly. A statewide poll conducted by Winthrop University in 2016 showed 78% approval for the use of medical marijuana. Swing’s group is sponsoring a conference on the issue September 28 at MUSC.

Pelic. a psychiatrist, has studied medical research on the human endocannabinoid system, which is stimulated by medical marijuana to respond to neurological problems, the effects of chemotherapy on cancer patients, and other ailments. He said only 15% of medical students receive instruction about the system. Mace noted that the use of medical marijuana for pain relief would reduce the number of opioids prescribed. Opioid addiction has become a significant medical problem throughout the country.