SC Senate approves bill to legalize medical marijuana, House to vote next

The SC Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow people to use marijuana and related products for medical needs. The bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, was sponsored by Senator Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort, who has been working on the issue for 10 years. The bill was approved by a 24-19 vote, with a mix of bipartisan support and opposition.

The bill would create a strict and regulated program for medical marijuana in the state, which would be overseen by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The bill would not allow smoking the drug, but would allow oil, salves, patches or vaporizers instead. The bill would also limit the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, autism and some post-traumatic stress disorder cases. The bill would require patients to obtain a recommendation from a doctor, and to register with DHEC. The bill would also authorize DHEC to license and regulate growers, processors, dispensaries and testing labs for medical marijuana. The bill would impose a 6% fee on medical marijuana sales, which would go to DHEC and law enforcement agencies.

A challenge and an opportunity for the House

The bill now heads to the House, where it faces a challenge and an opportunity. The bill has been opposed by some House leaders, such as Speaker Jay Lucas and Judiciary Chairman Chris Murphy, who have raised concerns about the potential abuse and diversion of medical marijuana. The bill has also been opposed by some law enforcement officials, such as Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis, who have argued that medical marijuana is a gateway to recreational marijuana. However, the bill also has some support in the House, such as from Representative Bill Herbkersman, a Republican from Bluffton, who has co-sponsored a similar bill in the House. The bill also has some public support, as a recent poll by Winthrop University showed that 72% of South Carolinians favor legalizing medical marijuana. The bill needs to pass the House by May 13, the last day of the legislative session, to become law.

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