COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — A group of medical professionals, veterans, patients, and parents are calling on South Carolina lawmakers to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

A bill that would do that has yet to be debated by the state legislature this year, frustrating advocates.

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act is currently awaiting debate on the Senate floor. It is similar to legislation that passed the state Senate last year with a 28-15 vote but died in the House of Representatives following a procedural ruling on the floor.

A vote to give the legislation priority for a floor debate in the Senate a few weeks ago failed.

The bill would legalize cannabis for medicinal use for patients with certain conditions. Smoking cannabis is not allowed under the legislation.

Some South Carolina veterans made a plea for Senators to debate the bill ahead of the legislative cross-over deadline so the bill would have a better chance at becoming law in 2023.

Cody Callarman, a Marine veteran and founder of a South Carolina CBD and hemp company, spoke during a press conference at the State House.

“South Carolina wants this. This should have been done years ago,” Callarman said. “If they want to continue to war on cannabis, that’s fine. But can we at least get the sick, dying, and ill off the battlefield?”

Law enforcement groups and others have opposed the bill in the past. They have said without FDA approval for medical use, they will remain against medical marijuana in South Carolina.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) said debate probably won’t start on the bill until next month. He believes when they do vote on it, it will pass the Senate as it did in 2022.

He said the bill is reflective of what South Carolinians want.

Davis called the bill ‘narrow’, “I think it is the most conservative, responsible bill in the country. I think this will be a bill South Carolinians will be proud of,” he went on to say, “I think it’s a bill that accomplishes what most South Carolinians want, which is to empower doctors, help patients but draw that bright line against recreational use.”

He said he believes the bill will be signed into law one day.

“In the end, this is going to happen. We just have to keep the faith and make the argument and keep trying to persuade.”

As of March 2023, 37 other states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.