Support SC Sen. Tom Davis’ medical marijuana bill, Rep. Mace urges

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The overwhelming majority of South Carolinians are in favor of cannabis reform in some way, shape or form, and we aren’t alone.

Forty-seven states have legalized the use of cannabis in some capacity– from CBD and hemp, to medical cannabis to full adult use.

It’s time our laws in South Carolina reflect the will of its people. That is why today I write in support of State Sen. Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Act.

This bill is an important first step in allowing patients with debilitating conditions like Crohn’s, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, cancer and chronic pain to legally receive cannabis for medical purposes.

Davis’ bill strikes all the right notes in a responsible manner. The Compassionate Care Act would empower doctors to help treat patients by offering medicinal cannabis, while still prohibiting its recreational use.

Davis became a champion of the issue after he met Jill Swing, President and co-founder of South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance, a patients’ rights advocacy organization.

At the time, Swing’s daughter was suffering up to 2,000 seizures per day as a result of cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Davis’ saw how she went from “100 seizures an hour to trace amounts.” After seeing the profound differences in Swing’s daughter, Davis became committed to ensuring everyone could access cannabis for similar medical treatments.

Early on Davis was successful in getting a bill passed that allowed possession of CBD oil for medical use, but the bill didn’t go far enough to enable access for patients with serious needs, as Swing personally attested.

There weren’t safe sources to buy CBD oil; and though Swing could find products online, she had no way of knowing if these products were fit for human consumption or offered any therapeutic benefits.

The Compassionate Care Act ensures any South Carolina resident who is sick and suffering and receives a doctor’s permission can benefit from medical cannabis.

Those who have a doctor’s approval will know their medication is safe for medical use. The bill also means South Carolina residents can benefit from the in-state cultivation, processing, distribution, and testing of medical cannabis, an already $17.5 billion industry nationwide.

I, too, have personally experienced the relief medical cannabis can bring for certain medical conditions. I supported this sort of legislation as a state lawmaker.

Today, as a congresswoman representing the Lowcountry, I’ve introduced the States Reform Act, to continue this work.

My bill on a federal level removes cannabis from Schedule I (so we can study it for medical purposes) and instead treats cannabis in a manner consistent with what each state has determined under pre-existing law.

In other words, if it’s legal in your state, it stays legal. If it’s prohibited, as it is in just three states, it can remain prohibited.

My bill means that if South Carolina wants to continue to only legalize CBD and hemp, it can. If it wants to expand cannabis use to medical, it can do that too. It allows all states to operate the way they already have been, in some cases for more than two decades already.

Under the States Reform Act, cannabis regulation would be given the same treatment as alcohol with respect to farmers, product manufacturers and distributors.

States should also be allowed the freedom to conduct medical research, and my bill allows for that too. The legislation also contains a provision to allow the release and expungement of records for about 2,600 nonviolent, cannabis-only drug offenders currently in the federal system.

This would save approximately $500 million over five years.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sen. Davis: if a highly trained and educated medical doctor diagnosing a patient decides cannabis can provide relief, why in the world would South Carolina legislators interfere with this medical advice and say they can’t?

Rep. Nancy Mace represents South Carolina’s First Congressional District.

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