A group of military veterans in South Carolina are urging the state government to legalize medical marijuana use, arguing it should be the highest priority for lawmakers when they come back to the House at the beginning of 2023.
Cody Callarman, a marine corps veteran who served four years has been fighting for the cause for nearly eight years. “No one has died from an overdose with cannabis ever,” he said, adding that marijuana helps him fall asleep and have a night mostly free of nightmares, reported ABC News.
“I say this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we were the brave ones. We should have our choice of medical treatment,” Callarman said.
Another veteran, Robert Leheup, told WACH Fox News on Tuesday that the issue of enabling veterans access to medical marijuana should be addressed “immediately.” He explained that cannabis together with counseling has "the potential to have profound impacts.”
Support Not Unanimous
Not all veterans in South Carolina, however, support medical marijuana legalization. For example, state representative Vic Dabney, a veteran of 28 years, objects to the proposal.
“I know a lot of veterans that are not sitting down eating gummy bears laced with cannabis,” Dabney said. “We’ve got enough drugged-up people in America as it is.”
Dabney noted that medical marijuana legalization would create a large financial load for the state. According to him, a minimum of $10 million would be needed to set up and run dispensaries.
“It was going to be another government program and a huge boondoggle where you’d have more than 400 dispensaries across the state,” Dabney said. “That was further reason for me to vote against it.”
Marijuana In South Carolina
This year, the South Carolina House found a way to kill seven years of hard work on what is considered the most restrictive medical cannabis law in the country. It eliminated it in May on a technicality regarding sales tax
Before the House started its discussion on several bills, Rep. John McCravy (R-Greenwood) said the medical cannabis bill was irregular due to generating a 6% sales tax. Under state law, any bill that generates revenue must start in the South Carolina House, but this bill originated in Senate.
Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope said: "This bill levies taxes in the strictest sense of the word. It is a core ingredient. It established a separate tax to create the whole infrastructure.”
House members approved Pope’s ruling in a 59-55 vote, killing it for this year.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said the ruling “will likely have significant consequences” between the Senate and the House.
In the meantime, a new poll revealed that more than three-fourths of South Carolina voters are in favor of medical cannabis, while support drops to half when asked about recreational marijuana.
"Seventy-eight percent of adults want to see cannabis legalized for medical purposes, while fifty-four percent are in favor of recreational legalization," according to the poll conducted in the lead-up to the midterm elections.
The Winthrop poll also found that Republicans are less likely to support cannabis legalization than Democrats.
Considering that the medical marijuana bill passed the Senate and was narrowly rejected in the House and that the majority of state residents support the reform, even lawmakers who oppose it think that medical cannabis legalization could happen in the state in 2024, or sooner.
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