SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The town of Surfside Beach is considering a ban on businesses selling medical cannabis — before legislation allowing it is even passed in South Carolina.
The town’s planning commission held a meeting Tuesday night where residents and the police chief voiced their thoughts and concerns. No votes were taken.
The Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize some forms of medical marijuana in the state, is currently in the South Carolina House. It would allow the sale of medical marijuana for specific illnesses, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia and autism.
It could only be obtained through specially chosen pharmacies, and smoking the drug would remain illegal in South Carolina. Patients would have to use oils, salves, patches or vaporizers.
Doctors would have to meet patients in person, and patients could only get a two-week supply at one time.
In the meantime, as the legislation continues making its way through state government, Surfside Beach officials are already focused on what it would like for them if it is approved.
“The real question is, does the family beach, Surfside Beach, want to have initially out of the gate, have medical marijuana dispensaries here in our town, Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann said.
Hofmann said he’s concerned that the legislation could have a public safety impact. He also fears that it would put a strain on public safety resources and lead to more car crashes and violent crime.
“I’m not going to yell fire in the theater here and say that crime is going to go out of control,” he said. “There’s no indication that the passing of marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is going to create a tremendous spike in violent crime. And we enjoy very low crime rates here in Surfside Beach. And my goal is to keep it that way.”
If the legislation passes, the town’s proposal would not prevent anyone with a prescription from using medical marijuana in Surfside Beach. It would simply prevent businesses in the town from selling it.
“It’s not illegal to possess this, but we’re just saying maybe we don’t want to have a dispensary here in town,” Hofmann said.
One planning commission member asked how a ban would affect shops that currently sell CBD produccts.. Hofmann said it would not affect them.
Residents also shared their thoughts on the issue.
“You’re going to let the people go across the street in the shopping center and open up a medical marijuana,” Lynn Livesay said. “Whereas, I would rather have it in here directly in the city limits where Chief Hofmann and his officers are going to be checking and making sure that it’s right and done properly.”
Livesay’s husband, Gary, said: “This is a train that’s left the station, so let’s move forward in life. Maybe control the number of licenses?”