You dont have to have a child who suffers from seizures to support the legal use of medical marijuana.
But if you do – as does state Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston – you might feel passionate about it. Mr. McCoys 5-year-old daughter Mae Loflin was an infant when her seizures started. And his research suggests she might get some relief using medical marijuana.
So Mr. McCoy and his wife asked her doctor about it. Now they are considering taking Mae to another state where it is legal to buy and use medical marijuana.
In 2014, the Legislature legalized the limited, doctor-prescribed use of cannabidiol. Thats encouraging but for the fact that you arent allowed to buy or sell it in this state.
So this year, advocates, including Mr. McCoy, tried again. And while the House Health and Environmental Affairs subcommittee of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved the proposed Medical Marijuana Program Act (H.4037) by a 3-1 vote, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee rejected the companion bill by a vote of 9-2.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, pushed for the bill but was unable to convince his colleagues that marijuana used for medicinal purposes is not the first step to legal use of it for recreation.
Indeed, the bill that failed would impose tight restrictions on growing, processing, dispensing and clinically experimenting with marijuana.
For example, the bill would have required patients to qualify for the program based on a list of illnesses and medical conditions – from ALS to spinal cord injury to severe pain. Someone who has been convicted of a drug-related felony in the last five years would be ineligible.
The patients caregiver would have to be at least 21, and a patient would be limited to two ounces of marijuana in leaf form, one ounce of cannabis oil concentrate or eight ounces of diluted cannabis oil. The state would process applications and establish an inventory tracking system.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.
All Rep. McCoy wants is to allow people who are suffering to have the relief that marijuana can bring. Hes certainly not proposing its recreational use.
It just so happens that medicinal use of pot is in the national news. The Obama administration last week opted to continue listing pot as a dangerous drug as it has been classified since 1970. However, it did support more research into its medical potential.
Thats not good enough. Its fine to go ahead with more research. Indeed its long overdue. As columnist Debra Saunders says on todays Commentary page, such research was hindered for decades.
But there is ample testimony from patients and physicians about medical marijuana easing pain and quieting seizures. Denying a 5-year-old girl the possibility of relief from seizures is not just misguided, its cruel.
A Winthrop University poll late last year showed 70 percent of likely voters in the Feb. 20 S.C. GOP presidential primary endorsed legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. More than 80 percent of S.C. Democrats supported medical marijuana in a ballot question in 2014.
And with the widening and devastating problem of addiction associated with the use of opioids, medical marijuana is in many instances a far more palatable, safer path to relief.
Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal use in South Carolina for the patients who qualify under the House bill.