State House

Medical Cannabis Bill Clears South Carolina Senate

“Republicans” in the House need to stop playing politics and move this long-overdue legislation forward …

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For the second time in three years, the South Carolina Senate has approved a sweeping medical cannabis bill – one which would create a heavily regulated medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State. Under the proposed legislation, S. 423, pharmacists would oversee the distribution of cannabis to select patients based upon the recommendation of their physician.

Per the terms of the bill, patients deemed qualified based on their medical diagnoses would be granted legal access to cannabis via a network of licensed dispensaries. As I noted earlier this month, tens of thousands of South Carolinians dealing with conditions such as epilepsy, neurological disorders, chronic pain, PTSD, intense nausea and other side effects accompanying chemotherapy have waited more than a decade for this bill to become law.

Those of us watching the state’s opioid epidemic unfold are also eager to see an alternative to these dangerous, highly addictive pain management “medications.”

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Thirty-eight other states have already decriminalized marijuana for medical use, putting South Carolina behind the curve on this issue. However, the lead sponsor of this legislation – state senator Tom Davis – hailed the “Compassionate Care Act” as a model bill for the rest of the country.

“I think when this bill passes — and I hope it does pass — it’s going to be the template for any state that truly simply wants to empower doctors and empower patients and doesn’t want to go down the slippery slope (toward recreational use),” Davis said during a protracted floor debate on his bill. “I think it can actually be used by several states that maybe regret their decision to allow recreational use, or they may be looking to tighten up their medical laws so that it becomes something more stringent.”

Davis has been fighting to decriminalize cannabis for medical purposes for more than a decade. He has been hailed by supporters and opponents alike for his statesmanship in advancing the bill.

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As the bill cleared the Senate, Davis received a standing ovation from his colleagues.

The GOP-controlled Senate approved the decriminalization measure by a 2419 vote with thirteen Republicans, ten Democrats and one independent supporting it – a definitional bipartisan bill. For those of you interested in seeing the roll call on the final passage of the bill, click here (.pdf).

Make no mistake: This is one of the pieces of legislation our media outlet will be scoring in an attempt to show which South Carolina lawmakers are standing up for freedom and free markets at the S.C. State House. And while the bill could have certainly gone further, a “nay” vote on it is simply incompatible with any conception of liberty.

A previous version of medical marijuana legalization passed the Senate in 2022 by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, but it was killed in the S.C. House of Representatives. So-called “Republican” leaders in the House – led by speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope – resorted to procedural gimmickry to block a vote on the bill.

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Pope and his allies were forced to kill the bill via gimmick because they knew it would pass if they held a vote on it …

Davis’ newest bill removed a revenue-raising component cited by House leaders as their reason for blocking the measure two years ago. In South Carolina, bills which raise revenue as their “primary purpose” must originate in the House, not the Senate. Davis’ bill clearly did not fit this “primary purpose” definition, but Pope and his allies used it as an excuse to rule it “out of order” nonetheless.

Davis has reportedly received assurances from S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith that his new bill will not suffer the same fate this year, however there are rumblings within the GOP-controlled chamber that opponents of medical marijuana are looking for another “gimmick” to use as a roadblock.

Others are expressing concern as to whether Smith will be pressured into not scheduling a vote on the bill …

This is ridiculous. People want this bill. Patients need this bill. South Carolina politicians have delayed its passage for far too long. House leaders need to stop screwing around and schedule a vote on S. 423 immediately.

Promises have been made … it’s time for them to be kept.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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6 comments

RC February 15, 2024 at 9:32 am

If you’re always going to put “republican” in quotes, you should probably be doing the same for the “freedom” caucus you so frequently champion.

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JustSomeGuy Top fan February 15, 2024 at 1:04 pm

I think “republican” = Not Libertarian. I wonder if the reason that SC has “republican” supermajorities in the legislature is because the legislators are actually reflecting the political ideologies of the voters. I, for one, don’t want to be represented by a party yes man.

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Terminator44 Top fan February 15, 2024 at 5:23 pm

Agree with you on some issues Will, but this is not one of them. “Medical marijuana”, as any sane, competent individual knows, is simply an excuse for hop-heads to get high. There is no medical in it. It is simply paving the way for more intoxicated individuals to be on the highways of South Carolina. Paving the way for more losers to get high and put their hand out for State benefits. Absolutely ridiculous nonsense. “Patients need this bill.” Translation: losers who want to get high, and stay high. We do not need “medical marijuana” in South Carolina. If you want to be a loser who stays high all of the time . . . move your sorry A$$ to Commie-fornia.

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RC February 16, 2024 at 11:32 am

You can really feel the compassion through the screen

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VERITAS Top fan February 15, 2024 at 5:51 pm

It has always started with “medical marijuana” and the sob stories of people who would “be doing so m7ch better if they just had marijuana”. If approved, before you know it, the state will be fighting growers and suppliers because the THC levels will keep rising above legal limits. Children and pets will be poisoned with THC gummies and other products that look like candy. We are a nation under the influence. This will not curb illegal drug trafficking, you will just have more players in the game.

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jbl1a February 18, 2024 at 8:36 am

While I feel sorry for you daughters plight Ms Swing, what you wish to unleash on SC is nothing more than an open door for recreational use. Get what you need for your kid but leave the rest of the state out of your folly. If you think the state is going to make it safe you are high. And Will lets make all illegal substances legal, weed, meth, fentanyl, lsd, heroin, cocaine. You’re a liberterian right?…..smh. Why not do another study and look at those whose lives have been drastically altered and damaged by drugs. I think you will find the vast majority started smoking weed.

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