GREENVILLE — A South Carolina state senator said Thursday that he will propose a medicinal marijuana bill that would allow physicians to prescribe the drug to alleviate pain and treat various conditions.
Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort, announced his intentions during a meeting of the state Medical Marijuana Study Committee at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research campus in Greenville. Davis is the panel’s co-chairman.
“I am learning for the first time all of the medicinal benefits that marijuana can be used for,” Davis said. He referred to testimony that the committee has heard about the use of marijuana for managing pain and to treat autism, glaucoma and side effects of chemotherapy.
A bill sponsored by Davis was approved earlier this year that allows children with seizure disorders to enroll in clinical trials of a marijuana extract known as cannabidiol. But broader medical marijuana bills have received scant support in the General Assembly.
Davis said the legalization of recreational marijuana in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia may improve the odds for approving medical marijuana in South Carolina.
“It’s my hope and expectation that you will see legislators become willing to look at cannabis the way they look at other medicines,” Davis said. “It isn’t as radical or as drastic as it once seemed.”
Davis said he also will propose legislation calling for cannabidiol to be grown and distributed in South Carolina. The extract contains only minute amounts of the psychoactive agent THC found in marijuana.
More than a dozen people spoke in support of medical marijuana during Thursday’s meeting.
Mary Dodge, a 37-year-old nursing student from Columbia, said she suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder that causes severe facial pain. The condition is nicknamed the “suicide disease,” she said.
“I can’t go outside when the wind is blowing, that is how sensitive I become,” Dodge said.
After enduring three months of pain last year, Dodge said, she smoked marijuana.
“That was the first time that I could sleep, eat and function,” she said. “Cannabis offers a hope, a chance of a normal life.”
Gaffney resident Steva Kiser said she took her 2-year-old grandson to Colorado after he was hospitalized 14 times in the first year of his life. She said he was treated with marijuana extracts for seizures and disabling muscle spasms.
“It was the miracle that we prayed for,” Kiser said. “He is completely healed.”
“It is time for us to move away from a fear-based perception of the cannabis plant,” she said.
Dan Engle, who recently moved to Greenville from California, said he was contemplating suicide after enduring excruciating headaches for more than two years. Engle said a doctor prescribed a combination of pharmaceutical drugs and cannabis and “within a week my headaches stopped.”
Responding to questions from Engle, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division toxicology expert Wendy Bell said marijuana can cause dangerous side effects.
“It does cause paranoia in some people,” said Bell, who is a member of the marijuana study panel. “It is addictive to some individuals.”
Engle scoffed at Bell’s remarks. “Aspirin this week has killed more people this week than marijuana has in 5,000 years,” he said.
Tim Peterson, who served in the military in Afghanistan, said marijuana could ease the post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts him and other veterans.
“For God’s sake, help us like we have helped you to be free,” he said. “Help us to be free within ourselves.”
Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM
Should state legislators allow for increased production and distribution of marijuana in South Carolina for medical purposes?
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.