The South Carolina House of Representatives has a medicinal marijuana legalization measure up for discussion. It’s still unclear, though, as we head towards the final week of the parliamentary session when we’ll hear about the Compassionate Care Act.
Since 2015, Beaufort and Jasper County state senator Tom Davis has been working on a medicinal marijuana legalization bill. In order to aid patients, Davis adds, “my duty is to come up with a law that empowers doctors and puts medication in their hands.”
Davis says he’s learned from the errors of other states that have enacted similar legislation over the years. For recreational uses, Davis claims that South Carolinians do not want it legalized. People who think it’s a slippery slope should know that a state’s legislation reflects what its citizens desire.
S.C.’s is the most traditional, he claims, compared to the others. In fact, it includes a comprehensive list of medical disorders that may be eligible for consideration. The list of illnesses isn’t wide enough, argues Davis, for anyone to go into a doctor’s office and receive a prescription for cannabis.
Cancer, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma, and PTSD, all of which have been linked to traumatic experiences, are among the illnesses on this list.
Moreover, Davis claims that it will be highly controlled. As Davis points out, “you only have a finite number of approved growers.” It can be processed by a particular number of people or organizations. The Department of Health and Environmental Control, the State Law Enforcement Division, and other authorities should not be overburdened by an excessive number of dispensaries.
Many people are unaware that South Carolina has already given the green light to the cultivation of cannabis. Nature’s Highway Farm in Neeses, just west of Orangeburg, is one such operation. They’re one of hundreds of growers in South Carolina with a permission to cultivate cannabis, but only hemp (which has less than 0.3 percent THC) plants.
Andy Fogle claims they have hundreds of plants in their hemp-growing operation that they are constantly pruning and duplicating. Fogle explains that if they’re allowed to bloom, they’ll lose their genetic makeup, thus they must be kept in tact.
It will be June before they plant the thousands of replication plants that are already in the ground. Hemp is extracted in a different Nature’s Highway plant and then processed there. The flower is dried, and then a frozen food-grade ethanol is added.
It works similarly to a washing machine in that it removes the oil from the plant. Once it’s been filtered, it moves on to the evaporation chamber, where it is separated from the alcohol and used for other purposes.
CBD oil and ethanol are combined, according to Fogle, who claims they’re being pumped. “Things are becoming hotting up. Ethanol (alcohol) is vaporizing as you watch it. As a vapor, it rises in a column. This coil contains a chiller, and when you look inside, you’ll find ethanol (alcohol) recirculating. CBD oil will be all that’s left once we remove all the ethanol.
Fogle goes on to clarify that even if medicinal marijuana is allowed, the procedure would not change. It’s simply that they’d be dealing with a different variety of marijuana.
In the event that medicinal marijuana becomes legal, Fogle and Davis both say they’d be open to applying for a permit to grow the plant, but Davis insists they’ll take things slowly.
In the long run, Davis predicts that there will be between 15 and 30 growers, about the same number of processors, and more dispensers since the state is so large. To regulate and monitor the cultivation, processing, and dispensing of marijuana will take time for DHEC and SLED to become used to it.
Every year, Congress has included a proviso in its annual budget directing the Department of Justice not to use any of the funds it receives to challenge, attack, or undermine laws allowing the medical use of cannabis, as he points out. He says this has been the case for several years now in Congress.