A number of medical professionals reportedly called for the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of South Carolina, reveals ABC News 4. The support for the legalization of cannabis in the state was voiced through a Zoom meeting last Tuesday morning, January 19, 2021.
State Representative Bill Herbkersman joined the online video conference alongside the said doctors. According to ABC News 15, the lawmakers and the medical professionals who participated in the meeting called for the passage of S. 150 or the H. 3361 South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. The act in question has reportedly been in the works for nearly ten years, reveals Count on News 2.
The bill has been pre-filed in December of 2020 by Rep. Herbskersman alongside Senator Tom Davis, states Live 5 News.
Included in the online meeting were doctors from all over South Carolina and through Lowcountry, all of who voiced support for alternative treatments plans using medical marijuana. Among the participants in the meeting is President of the South Carolina Podiatric Medical Association Dr. Jamelah Lemon, University of South Carolina Vice President for Research, Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, and University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy Dean, Dr. Stephen Cutler.
In a statement, Dr. Lemon said that cannabis has been “instrumental in naturally treating the pain as well as dependents on other traditional prescription drugs.” Count On News 2 states that the doctor went on to cite concerns from diabetic patients, saying that most are “tired” from taking narcotics or NSAIDs as they deal with their health conditions.
The Compassionate Care Act (S. 150 or H. 3361) would reportedly allow specific patients to gain access to medical marijuana treatment from licensed doctors. Under this, patients with debilitating or chronic health conditions would be allowed to get medical cannabis from partner facilities, provided they have obtained a doctor’s certification, notes ABC News 15.
By pushing the Compassionate Care Act back into the limelight, some of the state lawmakers hope that this year brings fruition to the much-needed comprehensive medical cannabis program.
Should the bill be approved, it would join the 36 states that already have this program in place. Some of those that are already enjoying this act in other states include the likes of Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia.
With many patients turning towards self-medication, passing the Compassionate Care Act would reportedly allow for a more regulated approach towards healing and dealing with pain.
In a statement by Dr. Monnique Singleton from Orangeburg, SC, she said that, “You’re going to assure that our patients have a safe product to use and also that they will have an effective product to use. Right now, if they are buying it off the streets, they are not really [sure] as to if it’s been tainted.”
Representative Herbkersman, on the other hand, took a more personal route by citing the experiences of his middle brother with the drug while dealing with Spindle Cell Carcinoma, reports Count On News 2.
According to Rep. Herbkersman, “From a pain aspect, he was able to do pain management, through medical use of cannabis but just as importantly, is that he was wasting away. He had no appetite and could eat, and this was one way he was starting to be treated with cannabis. He, uh, got his appetite back.” This also meant a higher quality of life despite suffering from such a condition.
In sharing his brother’s personal journey with medical marijuana, Count On News 2 points out that Rep. Herbkersman has brought the attention of the panel to the numerous personal stories and triumphs of other individuals with medical marijuana.
The same sentiments were echoed by one of the speakers, Surfside Beach pharmacist Daniel Bundrick. A supporter of the bill, WMBF News states that Bundrick has since closed his pharmacy in order to open up a cannabis dispensary.
Bundrick reportedly started by being against medical marijuana legalization. However, after taking the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) for the pain in his leg, WMBF News reports that he turned over a new leaf and became in favor of the bill.
Although it has continued to pass through South Carolina’s Senate panel, there is still much work to be done in order for the act to be passed and for patients to gain legal access to the drug. It is still filed with the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and is slated to get a hearing.
Despite many remaining on the fence and the legalization possibly opening up talks regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis as well, Rep. Bill Herbkersman is positive in gaining the support of both the Republicans and Democrats on the panel, saying “I think we’re going to have bipartisan support on this.”
Current Cannabis Landscape in the State of South Carolina
As of writing, the state of South Carolina has still yet to legalize the drug. This means that marijuana is still illegal not only for recreational use, but also for medical purposes. The stance of the state also mirrors the federal government’s take on the drug.
Under the current laws in place, individuals who possess an ounce or less will be given a penalty of no more than $200 and jail time of 30 days, while subsequent offenses will get at least one year in prison and up to $2,000 in fine.
The cultivation of plants is also considered a felony, with individuals caught violating this getting a minimum sentence of five years and $5,000 in charges for less than 100 plants or up to $200,000 in fines and a sentence of 25 years for those who have more than 10,000 plants.
Despite marijuana being banned in the region, the use of cannabidiol oil or low-THC CBD products is allowed for the treatment of certain medical conditions. Among these chronic debilitating conditions is the treatment of severe epilepsy. However, this should only be given under the advisement and guidance of a physician.
The Bottom Line
The legalization of medical marijuana in SC opens up huge opportunities not just for the health sector, but also for the state as a whole. With the bill’s passage, patients and medical professionals alike, as well as state officials, can all work together to provide the comprehensive medical cannabis healthcare that people need and deserve.