A medical cannabis program in South Carolina likely won’t become law this year despite polling favorably amongst South Carolina voters. The bill, SB 366, has been introduced by Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, for a few years running now, and despite gaining some media attention this year, did not have the gas to make it to the Senate floor for full debate.
As in previous years, the law enforcement and medical communities stood as the bills most staunch opponents. Mark Keel, SLED Chief, has long stood against any medical cannabis program not endorsed by the federal government and regulated by the FDA. A firm believer that a medical cannabis program will open doors to recreational drug abuse in the Palmetto State, Keel also has Governor McMaster’s ear – who has promised he will veto any legislation that does make it through the Legislature. McMaster’s promise to veto means the bill will have to achieve a two-thirds favorable vote in order to become law in South Carolina.
Advocates of a medical cannabis program in South Carolina are growing increasingly frustrated as neighboring, conservative-leaning states like Florida and Georgia pass their own versions of medical cannabis programs in 2019. As many as 33 other states in the U.S. have legalized some form of medical cannabis for certain disabilities and conditions.
Despite the bill failing to receive a vote on the floor of the Senate this year, legislators, issue advocacy groups and the public are starting to pay more and more attention to the issue – a promising sign for those hopeful to see the bill discussed by state lawmakers. For example, the Marijuana Policy Project was active in the Palmetto State for the first time this year, hiring two lobbyists to help advance the cause with state lawmakers. Other local advocacy groups, like SC Compassionate Care, and the South Carolina Cannabis Association were active this year, but probably didn’t do enough to engage the favorably-polling public on the issue.
It remains to be seen if a grassroots campaign will be the focus in 2020.