South Carolina voters support legalizing medical marijuana by a ratio of five to one, according to a new poll.
As lawmakers consider bills to enact the policy change this year, the survey shows 72 percent of respondents back the reform, while just 15 percent are opposed.
“The results of this poll reinforce what advocates have known for years—that the overwhelming majority of South Carolinians support a compassionate medical cannabis program,” Judy Ghanem, whose daughter suffers from a rare genetic disorder, said in a press release. “Voters understand that medical cannabis can provide life-changing relief, and that the law should not stand in the way.”
“My daughter and thousands of other South Carolinians deserve the right to the same medical option that is now legal in 36 states,” she said. “It is past time lawmakers listen to voters and adopt the S.C. Compassionate Care Act to stop needless suffering.”
Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R) and Sen. Tom Davis (R) prefiled companion versions of that legislation in December. The next month, the measures were formally introduced and referred to the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee and Medical Affairs Committee, respectively.
“I feel there is a very good chance we get something passed this session,” Davis said. “This bill has been fully vetted after five years of testimony and input by various stakeholders. The time has come for lawmakers to get out of the way and allow patients, in consultation with their physicians, to legally and safely access medicinal cannabis.”
Under the proposal, patients would be eligible for medical marijuana if a physician certifies that they have at least one qualifying condition such as epilepsy, autism, chronic pain, glaucoma or post-traumatic stress disorder. The House version stipulates that doctor could make the recommendation for any condition they see fit.
A Medical Cannabis Advisory Board would be established, and regulators would be authorized to add conditions.
Patients could purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana per 14-day period, but they would be prohibited from cultivating cannabis for personal use.
Support for medical marijuana legalization among South Carolina residents has been notable stable, as a 2018 Benchmark Research poll similarly found 72 percent support for the reform, including nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Republicans.
Also that year, 82 percent of voters in the state’s Democratic primary election voted in favor of medical cannabis legalization in a nonbinding ballot advisory vote. Lawmakers prefiled four marijuana measures for the 2019 session, but they did not advance.
The latest survey was released by the advocacy groups SC Compassionate Care Alliance and Compassionate SC. It involved interviews with 801 registered South Carolina voters from February 16-19.
Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash.