South Carolina lawmakers are taking their time in considering whether their state will become the 38th in the nation to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee heard six hours of public testimony April 4 as it considers whether to advance S. 150, which passed the Senate in early February after three weeks of debate.
The bill, called the SC Compassionate Care Act, has since advanced to the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, better known as the 3M Committee, which is the only one with a Democratic majority.
The committee held a hearing on the legislation March 31, when members made a handful of changes to the bill, including one that would allow podiatrists with additional training to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.
Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, chairman of the 3M committee, said he wanted to ensure all members had the opportunity to hear their constituents’ input before they decide whether to advance the legislation, the news outlet reported.
Many who spoke at Monday’s hearing urged lawmakers to support the bill, according to WCSC, including parents who use cannabis to treat their children and veterans who said cannabis is a safer and more effective treatment than the opioids they are often prescribed through the VA.
The SC Compassionate Care Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort County, would allow patients with one of 12 qualifying conditions to access medical cannabis with a recommendation from their doctor.
The legislation prohibits smokable cannabis, but allows for oils, vaporizers, salves, topicals and patches.
“I want people to look at South Carolina’s law and say, ‘If you want a law that helps patients and empowers doctors but doesn’t go down the slope to recreational, this is your bill,’” Davis told his colleagues at the April 4 hearing, according to WCSC.
The 3M Committee will reconvene April 7 to further discuss the bill, propose amendments and potentially vote on whether to send the legislation to the House floor for consideration, the news outlet reported.