Legal medical marijuana law unlikely in South Carolina this year

Despite a medical marijuana bill failing to become law in South Carolina, advocates of reform are hopeful.

It is looking increasingly unlikely that access to medical marijuana will be made legal in South Carolina in 2018. As FOX 57 News reports, that news comes despite a medical marijuana legalization bill recently passing a key Senate subcommittee and gaining bipartisan and public support. The problem is that the bill's House version is unlikely to be heard before its own subcommittee, thus dooming the prospect of medical marijuana legalization this year. Despite that failure, however, medical marijuana advocates say they are increasingly optimistic about South Carolina legalizing medical access to cannabis in the near future.

Bill unlikely to become law

As The State reports, a key House committee recently failed to meet on the subject of the medical marijuana bill. While the Senate version of the bill did pass its subcommittee and will advance to the committee stage, there is simply not enough time left in the legislative calendar to see the bill become law. This will be the fourth year in a row that a medical marijuana bill has failed to pass in South Carolina.

Despite that failure, medical marijuana advocates are increasingly hopeful that change will be coming sooner rather than later. The state has already legalized the use of cannabis oil containing less than 0.9 percent THC to treat seizures in children with epilepsy. Last year, the state also began a pilot project allowing for limited hemp production.

Public support is growing

Medical marijuana advocates also point out that a recent poll has found that 78 percent of South Carolinians now support legalizing medical marijuana. Most of the opposition to the bill, in fact, was based on concerns not so much that medical marijuana should remain illegal, but that the bill c ould be a first step towards legalizing recreational marijuana.

As a result of those concerns, a number of amendments were added to the medical marijuana bill. Those amendments included prohibiting consuming marijuana in its leaf form, limiting the number of health conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana, giving police sweeping access to the growing, processing, and distribution of marijuana, and creating tighter qualifications for physicians to prescribe medical marijuana. Medical marijuana advocates hope that with the amendments, the bill will have a much higher chance of being signed into law next year.

Charged with a drug crime?

While many states have legalized medical and even recreational marijuana, drug laws in South Carolina remain some of the toughest in the country. Furthermore, marijuana remains a prohibited substance throughout the United States under federal law. Anybody who has been charged with a drug crime needs to take the charges seriously. A criminal defense attorney can help those facing such charges in a number of ways, including by advising them about how to best defend and uphold their rights and freedoms.