COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – Some Grand Strand lawmakers are pushing for South Carolina to legalize medical marijuana.
State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, says he’s seen the pain of people who could benefit from medical marijuana.
“We all know people that need this,” he said. “You might not know it, but you do. I’ve watched an uncle and my grandmother both wither away and die from terrible terminal cancers. I have met literally hundreds of children that have come into my office with their parents that are afflicted with really bad seizures.”
Sen. Goldfinch is co-sponsoring the “South Carolina Compassionate Care Act,” which would legalize non-smokable forms of medical marijuana. Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington; Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach; and Sen. Hugh Letterman, R-Florence.
Medical marijuana would only be legal for patients suffering from severe illnesses which have scientifically proven benefits from cannabis.
“This is for seriously sick people in chronic pain, people with terminal cancers, people with Lou Gehrig’s disease, people that truly need help with pain,” said Sen. Goldfinch.
Medical Marijuana has been legalized in 36 states, including Mississippi. Voters there overwhelmingly approved it last month.
Sen. Goldfinch says he believes it’s a safer alternative for chronic pain.
“I think it’s abhorrent that we allow these people, or really demand that these people, put in what amounts to legal heroin in the form of opioids in their bodies,” he said.
In the past, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has fought against legislation that ended up failing to pass. The bill says SLED’s chief would be part of a commission to regulate medical marijuana.
Sen. Goldfinch says more people realize the benefits of medical marijuana and that South Carolina is ready.
“Ten years ago, I would have said not a chance,” Sen. Goldfinch said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s probably the most conservative medical marijuana bill in the nation.”
The bill would also put a six percent sales tax on medical marijuana, which is the same as non-prescription medications. Sen. Goldfinch also says he’s hoping the bill will be discussed in Columbia before May.
The prefiled bill was referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.