Small group of lawmakers hear more than 6 hours of testimony on medical marijuana

Senate Medical Commitee

Discussions will continue over allowing access to medical marijuana for South Carolina patients. It’s a topic that has generated both controversy and support every year the bill has been filed. 

Thursday at the State House those directly impacted by access or lack of access to the drug pleaded their case to lawmakers hoping to get a vote in their favor.  

The Senate Medical Committee held a 2-part meeting for more than 3 dozen people, who signed up to express either their concern or support of the Compassionate Care Act.  

Emily McSherry from Greenville is a member of Cannabis Forward. She delivered emotional testimony to the group of senators.  

“4 members of our medical cannabis support group have passed away. The legislators were not there to hear the patient dying of cancer look at me and say why…why do they continue to fail us,” said McSherry.  

The bill legalizes medical marijuana under what author Senator Tom Davis calls “strict” criteria that defines who can prescribe it and who can have it. 

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel strongly opposes the bill. Keel brought paraphernalia and a 2-week supply of medical marijuana to show lawmakers exactly what the bill calls for.  

Keel explained, “I just tell you if you vote yes what I’ve said many times. Be prepared for that Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences.”  

Medical professionals against the bill were also at Thursday’s meeting citing dangers of the drug. 

Dr. Richard McCain added, “It will have a great cost to children and grandchildren and to pregnant mothers. Until this medicine is proven effective, we cannot endorse it’s use.” 

But supporters of the bill pleaded to lawmakers hoping to have access to the drug for their medical needs. Margaret Richardson shared her experiences over the years with trigeminal neuralgia.  

“A year ago, April, out of nowhere, I was screaming because I woke up. Trigeminal Neuralgia is like having a bunsen burner turned on the side of your head. It’s not something that you can ignore and since the 1 legal solution almost killed me.”  

The bill has generated bipartisan support from lawmakers across the state but it’s future this year is still uncertain.  

Senator Tom Davis called for another meeting on the topic this upcoming Thursday. 

When and if the Compassionate Care Act passes the full Senate Medical Commitee, it will then head to the Senate floor. However, the bill will need 2/3 of the senator’s votes in favor of the bill in order to bring it up for discussion on the State House floor.   

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