State House

Tom Davis Mixes It Up With Medical Cannabis Critics

How is pot prohibition working out for the Palmetto State? Not so well …

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Earlier this week, South Carolina senator Tom Davis took to social media to raise the issue of medical cannabis – posting an image of himself sitting alongside S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel.

For several years, Davis and Keel have been antagonists in an ongoing battle over the extent to which the Palmetto State should legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Keel has largely won this battle, but the tide has been turning in Davis’ favor of late – with so-called “Republican” leaders in the S.C. General Assembly forced to resort to procedural gimmickry to kill his bills, which have widespread public support.

Despite getting procedurally backstabbed by his GOP colleagues, Davis has remained a principled advocate for legalization in the legislature – and a true statesman in his interactions with law enforcement.

(Click to View)

Tom Davis and Mark Keel. (Twitter)

“I authored a 2014 law allowing doctors to authorize medical marijuana use by epilepsy patients, and I’m trying now to expand medical uses,” Davis wrote this week on X, formerly known as Twitter. “SLED Chief Mark Keel has opposed me, but in a way that has forced my bill to become more precise. Principled opposition leads to better laws.”

Davis’ post drew praise from our media outlet – which has long supported the legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes.

“Whether you agree or disagree with Davis on this issue (or other issues), the man is a statesman,” we tweeted. “In a sea of opportunistic, self-serving politicians, South Carolina is lucky to have a handful of principled leaders like Tom debating policy, not politics. We need a hundred more like him.”

Not everyone was happy with Davis, though.

In response to our praise for him, the S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Association (SCLEOA) – a group we generally admire and agree with – fired back with a blanket statement implying that all law enforcement officers opposed legalizing marijuana.

“Not just Chief Keel opposes this legislation,” the group stated. “Medical or legalized marijuana is bad for our state. The thousands of cops we represent oppose it as well! It’s a schedule one drug for a reason.”

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“Yes, there’s a reason marijuana’s a schedule one drug and ranked as being more dangerous than schedule two drugs like cocaine, fentanyl, morphine, and methamphetamine, but It’s not the reason you imply, and it certainly isn’t because marijuana has no medical benefits,” Davis shot back.

“We are glad you understand where law enforcement stands,” SCLEOA responded. “We can agree that substance abuse leads to poor decisions and consequences.”

Davis pushed back – pointing out the failure of previous prohibition efforts and the chronic abuse of prescription drugs that are not classified as schedule one narcotics.

“Can we also agree the potential for abuse is not a sufficient condition precedent for a ban?” Davis continued. “That was the rationale for the Eighteenth Amendment (a.k.a. prohibition), which didn’t turn out so well. Also, by your logic certain prescription drugs that are in fact abused should be banned — do you favor that?”

At this point, it appears whoever runs the SCLEOA Twitter (or “X”) account realized arguing with the smartest elected official in the state might not be the smartest idea – and the debate was shut down.

Davis was not done, though.

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“I respect law enforcement and the real-life experiences they have dealing with crimes involving illegal substances, and I appreciate them bringing that unique perspective to this debate; it has forced me to work harder and make my bill better,” Davis said. “But their continued lack of empathy for patients who are needlessly suffering and their disregard for the overwhelming weight of medical authority about the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis is very troubling.”

““Neither law enforcement nor politicians should be the gatekeepers here — that role belongs to physicians in consultation with their patients,” Davis added.

Davis’ bill – S. 423 – was introduced in the S.C. Senate on January 19, 2023 and referred to the chamber’s medical affairs committee. It received a favorable recommendation from this committee on February 21, 2023, but did not receive a vote on the floor of the Senate. Previous bills have passed the Senate but, as previously noted, been killed by House leaders using procedural gimmicks.

“This bill, from top to bottom, now is a very conservative, safe bill,” Davis told our Mark Powell earlier this year. “You’ve got doctors on the front end who have to authorize a patient’s use. You’ve got pharmacists on the back end who will dispense the cannabis to patients and consult with the patients. You’ve got regulation, every step of the process from the growing the processing to the dispensing. You have seed-to-sale tracking to make sure there’s no diversion. We’ve looked at the 37 or 38 states now that have already legalized medical cannabis. And we have taken from the best of all those laws. And we’ve come up with a bill that is a conservative template for states that want to empower doctors, that want to help patients but also want to draw a bright line against recreational use. This is that model bill.”  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Dylan Nolan)

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 (soon to be eight) children.

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5 comments

Bob September 30, 2023 at 11:39 am

It’s well known that MAGA politicians love their booze and drugs. Now that they have overrun the GQP, places like SC might stand a better chance of some sort of cannabis legalization.

Reply
George Johnson Top fan October 1, 2023 at 6:52 am

So Senator Davis thinks the decision on medical weed should be made between patient and doctor. Same guy who eventually voted to pass SC’s infamous six-week abortion ban, depriving women control of their own bodies, and physicians of the ability to meet women’s needs. As the senator said then: “At some point in time, the right of the state to see the unborn child born does take precedent over the woman’s right to her body.” Some champion of individual rights, eh?

Reply
crutches October 2, 2023 at 9:04 am

FN idiot, Davis and Folks both. It’s not about medicine or patients. It’s all about kicking the door open for full blown rec use. We have enough drunks and stuipid people in SC now we are gonna add mentally compromised dope heads to the mix. Hey Will lets add mushrooms, heroin and fentanyl to those substances you think should be legal, how about some crank mixed in there too……smdh

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John Thomas October 3, 2023 at 5:17 pm

Research shows cannabis is about HALF as intoxicating as alcohol, and vastly less harmful. Alcohol directly causes the deaths of more than 150,000 Americans every year. NO ONE has ever died from consuming cannabis. That makes it safer than aspirin, caffeine and peanuts!

Lumping near harmless cannabis in with the hard drugs is a common, dishonest, prohibitionist deception. This clouds the issue and attempts to cast the harms of the hard drugs onto cannabis. 
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We don’t have the same alcohol policy, as we do tobacco policy, as we do caffeine policy. Each drug has different levels of harm and requires a different regulatory approach. No one thought it necessary to discuss opium when they were debating ending alcohol prohibition. 
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With TWENTY-THREE legal states, and more on the way, it’s clear the issue before the country is the fraudulently enacted cannabis prohibition. While cannabis is near harmless, the prohibition is MASSIVELY harmful. In all its 86 miserable years, it has never accomplished one positive thing. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, corruption, death and the severe diminishing of everyone’s freedom.
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Science and widespread experience have shown cannabis has no notable harms. – Every person who chooses near harmless marijuana over addictive, very harmful alcohol, improves their health significantly – as well as the lives of their family and community.

Reply
John Thomas October 3, 2023 at 5:12 pm

From your article:

>>>”In response to our praise for [SC Senator Tom Davis], the S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Association (SCLEOA) – a group we generally admire and agree with – fired back with a blanket statement implying that all law enforcement officers opposed legalizing marijuana.”

Science and widespread experience have shown cannabis has no notable harms. And the preponderance of the research shows the consumption of cannabis is not a significant cause of auto accidents.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Crash Risk research found that while drunken driving dramatically increased the risk of getting into an accident, there was no evidence that using cannabis heightened that risk.

Clearly, every person who chooses near harmless cannabis over addictive, very harmful alcohol, improves their health significantly – as well as the lives of their family and community.

However, police profit massively from the fraudulently enacted, cannabis prohibition. – It gives them millions of dollars in asset forfeitures, millions more in the federal bribe of “drug war” grants, easy overtime, easy arrests, easy convictions and easy promotions – all at the expense of everyone’s freedom!

That’s why, in regard to cannabis, the police are the enemy of freedom and reason. They should not be given ANY input on cannabis policy. Their huge conflict of interest makes them the foxes in the hen house. The fraudulently enacted prohibition has corrupted the police to the point where they simply cannot be trusted on this subject.

Reply

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