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A South Carolina Senate subcommittee passed a bill last Thursday to approve marijuana for medical use. The bill would make patients who suffer from a designated list of medical conditions eligible to obtain a medical marijuana license after obtaining a doctor’s prescription.

Following the subcommittee approval, the bill will now head to a full Senate Medical Affair Committee. The subcommittee will first meet to gather input from those opposing the bill in hopes of improvement.

According to the bill, a seed-to-sale tracking system would be put into place and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control would be in control of licensing cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries.

During a hearing Thursday, the subcommittee heard from those opposing the bill, including Mark Keel, the State Law Enforcement Division Chief. Keel said that some doctors in other states with medical marijuana laws have become “pill mills,” just handing out medical marijuana prescriptions to anyone for a fee, even just to accommodate minor aches and pains. He said that those states have seen an increase in overall cannabis use, marijuana-fueled traffic accidents, and emergency room visits for children who ingested edibles. Keel spoke on how he feels about the bill,

“I don’t know of any other proposed legislation that I’ve been aware of, and certainly not since I was director of the Department of Public Safety and more involved with the legislature or since I’ve been the chief of SLED, that I think has the opportunity to negatively impact the state that we live in than this piece of legislation.”

Those who are sponsoring the bill disagree. They believe that there are, in fact, many conditions for which marijuana can provide relief.

One of the supporters, Sen. Tom Davis, believes it not politicians’ right to tell a patient he is not allowed access to something that could help,

“If a doctor, with all his or her training, believes something can be of therapeutic benefit, why in the world would we as politicians, for reasons that are non-medical, step in and say no?”

The bill making it through the subcommittee is a promising step in the right direction for those in South Carolina who need the benefits medical marijuana has to offer.

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