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Open Letter On Medical Cannabis To SC Governor

South Carolina veterans, mothers, children and cancer patients are waiting to hear from you …

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An open letter to Governor Henry McMaster and all South Carolina politicians:

This is written for all Veterans, mothers of sick children and adults.  It is way too late for me to be helped.  Please read the letter and act.

I have lived in South Carolina for about four years and have grown to love this state and its people. However, there is an issue that needs to be openly discussed and thoroughly debated to conclusion.  That issue is the medical cannabis legislation that has been stalled by the State Senate as a result of misrepresentations by law enforcement and outright lies by other opponents of the legislation.

This letter is an attempt to lift the cannabis “FOG OF DECEPTION.”

Why me?  I am a 60-year-old husband, father of two successful children and a proud grandfather.  I also served 24 years as an Officer in the U.S. Navy.  While in the Navy, I conducted drug interdiction missions in Panama and throughout South America.  I have seen REAL drug interdiction up close and personal.

Additionally, prior to moving to South Carolina, I was a medical cannabis patient in California.  I was being treated for PTSD and a severe neurological disorder.  Medical cannabis was a miraculous treatment for both problems with no side effects!  I now suffer from the symptoms again as I live in a state where I would be violating the law if I utilized the medicine that has so effectively treated my illnesses!  And I am not alone!

South Carolina, has one of the largest per capita veteran populations in the country.  Because of law enforcement’s obstructionism and the legislature’s inaction, my brother and sister vets are being treated with addictive opiates for “PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), pain due to previous service injury and war wounds.”  We know medical cannabis (which is far more innocuous) works for many sufferers.

Perhaps law enforcement opponents and Senators would feel differently on the medial cannabis issue if they had served active duty tours in actual war zones.  It is hard to understand people returning with PTSD or the other war related maladies after multiple combat tours if you have not been there and done that yourself!  Please show compassion and kindness to those Vets that gave us courage and commitment!

One might understand law enforcement’s opposition if it was part of a truly legitimate and effective drug enforcement policy. But drug interdiction efforts in South Carolina have been a failure! It is all about optics and money:

1. Despite its illegality, cannabis is still the second largest cash crop in South Carolina.

2. 55 percent of all cannabis consumed in South Carolina comes from Mexican cartels.

3. The DEA (federally) and South Carolina law enforcement interdict just 2 percent of all drugs coming into the country and the state.

4. Eighty percent of cannabis arrests in South Carolina are cannabis USERS; not sellers, not meth dealers, coke dealers or heroin dealers, but Cannabis USERS.  What effective drug enforcement policy targets users and not sellers?

5. South Carolina’s cannabis drug enforcement policy has caused a permanent underclass within the state and it continues to do so. Currently, if ten people are arrested in South Carolina, seven will be people of color, three will be white – despite the fact that cannabis use rates are the virtually the same in both groups. One group just keeps getting arrested over and over, due to racial profiling. You guess which one.  A cannabis arrest can often be a felony arrest which is a black mark on one’s record that impacts employment and other opportunities for life! This is a significant human cost.

6. You know the phrase “Follow the Money?” The real thrust of law enforcement’s opposition relates to the reduced budgets and asset forfeitures that would result from fewer cannabis related arrests. We only wish that law enforcement’s drug enforcement policy was as effective as it’s fight against medical cannabis. I have never seen such a massive law enforcement effort at anything! Huge numbers of Officers are being ordered to show up to committee hearings (on State time, at taxpayer expense) to make it appear that the rank and file also oppose medical cannabis legislation. Discussions with these officers reveals that many actually believe in the benefits of medical cannabis and feel that cannabis enforcement is a waste of their time, especially in light of the state’s burgeoning opiate addiction problem. At one committee hearing I attended approximately 50 officers were directed to sit in the front row of the hearing room while mothers of desperately ill children were forced to stand and then walk the law enforcement “gauntlet” in order to testify before the committee! This, sir, is not an appropriate way for a democracy to debate issues or use its resources, especially while people are dying of opiate and heroin overdoses in record numbers and alcohol addicts are out there on the road killing people.

Mr. Governor, the head of the Senate committee on the medical cannabis issue appears to care more about the Confederate flag issue than how medical cannabis could help Vets, children with epilepsy, people with Parkinson’s or patients with cancer.  I have personally known six people with Stage 3 or Stage 4 cancers that have been cured with medical cannabis and additional protocols in just the last few months.

Many opponents of medical cannabis argue that the drug needs to be regulated by the FDA.  Really?  The FDA is the agency that brought you 22 million deaths a year by approving such substances as tobacco, alcohol, and sugar (TAS).  That’s right, 22 MILLION DEATHS A YEAR from just these three FDA-approved products!  T.A.S. costs US taxpayers billions a year in health costs, legal costs, etc.  Alcohol alone kills more people in one day than cannabis has in 5,000 years!

I am going to say this one more time, the FDA approved label brought you 22 million deaths a year, cannabis has produced zero deaths in 5,000 years.  Will you really feel safer if the FDA approved medical cannabis?  Needing FDA approval is nothing more than an obstructionist roadblock.

This country sends 21-year-old young men and women to war with weapons.  However, we can’t trust them with a drug like cannabis to treat the effects of those very same wars?  It is too dangerous?  Doesn’t this seem nonsensical to you?  Does it make sense that a drug that has not killed anyone in 5000 years and has a toxicity rating that cannot be achieved by humans (smoke 1,420 pounds in 20 minutes), is considered public enemy No. 1?  While the FDA approves drugs that result in 22 million deaths a year
(alcohol, tobacco and sugar)!

The VETS and other sufferers in your state need your help TODAY, not tomorrow, not next week.  We need you to come out and make a statement in FULL SUPPORT of the medical cannabis bill.  Seventy-five percent of South Carolina residents want medical cannabis to be legal in this state.  We need YOU to push this bill and get law enforcement back in their box. (They should enforce the laws, not make or dictate them.)  We all look forward to hearing from you publicly.

The time for half steps and cool/ warm support is over.  Either you support the vets, mothers and other patients or you don’t.  Either you support medical cannabis or you don’t.

So which is it?  We would all like to know.

Sincerely,

Dan Engle
Greenville, S.C.

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