A proposed amendment to South Carolina’s medical cannabis bill could alleviate social conservative opposition to the legislation – potentially clearing its path to passage in the Palmetto State Senate (perhaps as soon as this week).
For the past seven years, S.C. senator Tom Davis of Beaufort, S.C. has been pushing a limited, medicinal-use-only bill that supporters say would provide desperately needed relief for those “suffering from conditions like cancer pain, seizure disorder, and PTSD.”
I interviewed Davis last week about his bill, and opined further on his legislation in the latest edition of our “Week in Review” format.
Here is our interview for those of you who missed it …
(Click to view)
(Via: FITSNews/ YouTube)
Davis’ bill – S. 150, the “Compassionate Care Act” – has drawn opposition from social conservatives owing to what they feel are “loopholes” which would facilitate the recreational use of marijuana.
Are these concerns legitimate? I do not believe so. South Carolina’s bill is far more restrictive than the medical marijuana legislation approved earlier this month in Mississippi, which is on the verge of becoming the 37th state to enact a medical marijuana program.
Also, I support the recreational use of marijuana. Meaning I am unconcerned by any of these alleged loopholes that could conceivably usher it in.
Anyway, Davis has been working with social conservative senators like Josh Kimbrell of Spartanburg in the hopes of crafting an amendment that alleviates their concerns about the bill.
According to Davis, the amendment he and Kimbrell have been working on would put state-licensed pharmacists – medical professionals subject to licensure by the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy – in charge of dispensing medical cannabis to qualifying patients.
“The bill already had very tight physician authorization-of-use requirements on the front end, and this amendment would close out the loop by putting the skill and expertise of pharmacists at the back end,” Davis told me on Monday.
Kimbrell agreed with that assessment.
“If we can get this amendment adopted, it alleviates my remaining concerns about this being a path to recreational,” the first-term lawmaker told me. “And it should also alleviate the concerns of social conservatives and of law enforcement.”
(Click to view)
(Via: Kimbrell for Senate/ Facebook)
Assuming the amendment passes, Kimbrell (above) told me he would be an “aye” vote on S. 150.
“Senator Davis has worked hard to craft a medical cannabis bill with appropriate safeguards in place – a bill that would keep us from becoming Colorado,” he told me. “I believe this amendment goes one step further and makes it even more secure.”
“Frankly, it speaks to senator Davis’ integrity in the sense he is trying in every way possible to help people who are suffering from chronic conditions in a good faith effort – while at the same time balancing the concerns of those who oppose recreational marijuana,” Kimbrell added.
Senators debated Davis’ bill for five hours last Wednesday and an additional two hours on Thursday – during which time it became clear the primary concern of some socially conservative state senators was the bill’s establishment of a statewide network of dispensaries to get the medical cannabis authorized by physicians to the physicians’ patients.
Several state senators – including Dwight Loftis and Chip Campsen – asked Davis why the bill relied on dispensaries instead of state-licensed pharmacists, arguing the public would be better served by taking advantage of pharmacists’ training and expertise in interacting with patients.
In response to these concerns, Davis and Kimbrell began working on their amendment to strip dispensaries from the bill – instead putting state-licensed pharmacists in charge of doling out medical cannabis to qualifying patients. Assisting in the drafting of the amendment? The South Carolina Pharmacy Association (SCRX.org) and holders of medical-marijuana pharmacy permits in Louisiana – one of the 37 states in the country that has authorized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and which relies upon pharmacists for dispensing.
Davis praised Kimbrell for his starring role in the negotiations.
“Josh has really stepped up and showed leadership on this,” Davis told me, referring to Kimbrell. “He’s not only been an honest broker in relaying the concerns held by social conservatives but has also worked in good faith to draft an amendment to address those concerns. His engagement on this has been indispensable.”
The “pharmacist” amendment is still being perfected, according to Davis, but it will include the issuance of regulations by the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy relating to the dispensing of prescribed cannabis products by state-licensed pharmacists for therapeutic use.
“But the amendment is primarily Josh’s work product, and its final form will be determined by him,” Davis said. “He is in a better position than I am to gauge what will address the concerns expressed by some or my more socially conservative colleagues, and I will certainly defer to his judgment in that regard.”
WANT MORE NEWS?
Again, this news outlet’s views on legalizing marijuana remain what they have been for years: We support legalization as a liberty and an economic issue – although we have acknowledged the necessary limits of such a policy.
Needless to say, we will continue to follow this issue closely as it advances through the S.C. General Assembly – allowing both supporters and opponents of the measure to make their cases to our readers via our open microphone policy.
In the meantime, I would encourage readers to vote in our poll and post their thoughts in our always lively comments section below …
Do you support legalizing marijuana in South Carolina?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above).
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
SIGN UP …
BANNER VIA: GETTY IMAGES
SIGN UP …