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SLED Chief Mark Keel: Medical Marijuana Bill A Poison Apple

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Dear Editor,

First, let me thank you for the opportunity to share the concerns of the law enforcement community in South Carolina about the notion of dispensing marijuana to treat certain conditions.

Our position has not changed.  Law enforcement in South Carolina continues to oppose bills that would allow the sale of a substance that is federally illegal.

The Mason-Dixon survey offers nothing new.  Remember last year when the proponents touted a Winthrop University poll showing support for the then-proposed legislation?  What those favoring marijuana for sale by physicians glossed over in that survey was that almost the same overwhelming percentage of people were in favor of regulation of the practice by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  That was and continues to be exactly our position.

Even today, there is much that needs to be learned and understood about the long-term effects of the use of marijuana to treat illnesses or other conditions.  That’s why we support federally-funded research.

This we do know; marijuana is not medicine.

The proponents’ new survey has taken a highly complex issue and simplified it into a forced-choice question designed to provide the response those who paid for the survey wanted.  We all wish it were as simple as coming up with a yes or no answer to this issue.

As the legislature considers bills allowing the sale of marijuana for what supporters call compassionate care, we will be testifying and supporting our long-held position that if this illegal substance is to be used for medicinal purposes, it needs to undergo federally funded research and, if approved, be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a prescription medication just like any other prescribed drug.  Marijuana should be no different.

Last year, we in the law enforcement community considered the then-proposed legislation a Pandora’s Box of consequences.  This year, we expect the proponents will repackage this concept in a more appealing form. It doesn’t matter how attractive, South Carolinians don’t need to bite this poison apple.

Sincerely,

Mark Keel
Chief, S.C. State Law Enforcement Division

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