A House panel on Tuesday advanced a bill that seeks to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, over the objections of South Carolina’s top cop and other law enforcement representatives.
The hearing, which was contentious at times, lasted for more than three hours, with the majority of speakers advocating for the legislation. More than a dozen speakers addressed the panel.
The bill calls for allowing those with debilitating or chronic diseases to buy up to two ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary if physicians certify in writing that their patients could benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
Among those who spoke in favor of the bill was Becky Dansky, of the Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that advocates in favor of legally regulated medical and non-medical marijuana.
“Parents are concerned about the dangerous drugs being prescribed to their children, and in other cases, drugs that don’t work for them,” Danksy said.
Kathy Roberson’s nephew, 11-year-old Morgan, is among those who was taking at least seven medications to address the three to five seizures he was having a day. His seizures started when he was about 6 years old, and he spent the next four years as “a zombie” from the medications meant to make him feel better, Roberson said.
But after South Carolina legalized the use of cannabidiol oil, Morgan went 48 hours seizure-free the first time he tried it, she said. He has gone as long as 232 days without a seizure through the use of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, which has low doses of THC, the chemical associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
“He was able to wean (himself) off some of the harmful pharmaceuticals,” Roberson said. “CBD has worked really well, but he needs more than that.”
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, however, opposed the bill. He cautioned about the difficulty of controlling marijuana once it’s in the hands of a user who had it prescribed.
“The bill that you currently have before you is the same Pandora’s box in different wrapping paper than last year’s version,” Keel said. “Simply stated: marijuana is not medicine.”