SC Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

By Paul Gable

The SC Senate passed the crucial second reading, by a 28-15 vote, of a bill to approve the sale of medical marijuana in the state. The bill was debated over the last three days of Senate meetings and appears destined to pass what is normally a pro forma third reading today.

The bill will then move to the House where a similar bill was defeated by a parliamentary maneuver two years ago. Changes were made to this bill which eliminated the provisions that led to the killing of the bill in the House two years ago without any debate. Several House members have told Grand Strand Daily that they expect the bill to go through the normal debate process in the House this go around.

South Carolina is one of 12 states in the nation which do not allow the sale of marijuana products for medical purposes (38 states do). It is also one of only four states in the nation in which marijuana still maintains a “fully illegal” status.

Sources told GSD that the sale of medical marijuana in the state is opposed by SLED and the SC Sheriffs Association, ostensibly because of difficulties with regulation of its sale. One could argue, even though it is illegal, sale of marijuana in the state is not regulated now.

According to the provisions of the current bill, it would require a prescription by a doctor for a specific medical purpose in order to be dispensed by a pharmacy to a person. It appears that creams, lotions and some oral methods of use are approved. However, smoking of the product is not one of the methods allowed in this legislation.

Speaking of regulation, it will be interesting to watch debate in the House, which just approved a bill allowing curbside delivery of alcohol products in the state. The bill allows liquor stores and grocery stores to hire a delivery service to make curbside deliveries of alcohol products  to persons over 21 years of age, not appearing to be intoxicated, during the normal hours of alcohol sales.

Curbside dispensing of alcohol products by a contracted delivery service seems to be considerably less regulated than dispensing medical marijuana products by doctor’s prescription through a pharmacy.

We’ll have to wait and see what SC House members think about regulation of curbside alcohol and medical marijuana products with the different methods of distribution offered by the two bills.

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