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Action Delayed On SC Medical Marijuana Bill




A medical marijuana bill that appeared poised to sail through a South Carolina House of Representatives committee did not receive a vote on Wednesday – making it highly unlikely this issue will advance during the current session of the Palmetto state legislature.

What happened?

It’s not immediately clear, although our guess is it probably had something to do with our exclusive reporting yesterday on a major dust-up between supporters of the bill and its leading law enforcement opponents, most notably S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel.

This website has been – and will continue to be – a vocal critic of Keel’s taxpayer-funded lobbying against medical marijuana.

“Keel’s opposition is just … cruel.  And from our vantage point has been consistently less-than-honest,” we wrote.

Indeed.  Whatever you think of recreational pot use, medical marijuana legalization – as far as we’re concerned – is a moral imperative.

(Read why here – and here).

Previously, we’ve accused Keel of being deliberately untruthful in his advocacy against this bill – which we believe is long-overdue in the Palmetto State for individuals suffering from a host of chronic ailments.

“(SLED) is being deliberately dishonest in its propagandizing … sowing fear over the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes even though there is currently no such proposal before the S.C. General Assembly,” we wrote back in January.

Not only that, the prodigious amounts of time Keel and his law enforcement minions spend lobbying against this bill is time they don’t spend protecting and serving – and there are a dizzying array of crime stats attesting to the inefficacy of such an approach.

Keel is an easy and deserving target, in other words.

Unfortunately, pro-medical marijuana forces have decided to take calculated aim at Keel over one of the only things he’s been doing right of late – supporting an ongoing investigation into public corruption in state government.  They believe Keel – whose agency is providing investigative resources to the prosecutor conducting this probe – is someone leveraging his involvement in this investigation to sway votes against medical marijuana.

Do we believe this is happening?  No.

In fact, this ill-advised allegation – said to have been part of a broader strategy endorsed by a pair of medical marijuana lobbyists – is likely what killed this bill.

Which leads us to wonder … was medical marijuana legislation “spiked?”

Allow us to explain what we mean …

At the S.C. State House, the advancement of particular issues by lobbyists and special interests is a cottage industry.  Lobbyists and political operatives who get hired by these interests don’t get paid unless they have a “bill” to advance.

If a bill advances too quickly, it threatens their sustained employment …

Even worse, oftentimes lobbyists with multiple clients will sacrifice one bill to advance another (perhaps a piece of legislation being pushing by a higher-paying client).

Is that what happened here?  Who knows … but it’s clear the fortunes of this legislation shifted dramatically.  In an instant.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” one lobbyist following the debate told us. “I’ve never seen something go from ‘gonna pass’ to ‘dead in the water’ quite so fast.”

Indeed.  Something’s rotten here …

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