Will Medical Marijuana Legalization in South Carolina Make Progress in 2022?
Although it’s discouraging that another year has come and gone without us being able to get a South Carolina Marijuana Card, 2021 wasn’t all bad news. In fact, as we look back on the year behind and the one ahead, it’s safe to say at this point that we appear to be closer than we ever have been to having access to medical marijuana here in the Palmetto State.
Progress Made on South Carolina Medical Marijuana Law in 2021
Last year started out looking very good indeed for easing cannabis prohibitions here in South Carolina. Senator Tom Davis told WCIV, Charleston’s ABC affiliate, that he expected his medical marijuana bill to be debated on the Senate floor by the end of February, and that he also thought he had the votes to pass it.
And while Senate Bill 150, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, did ultimately fall short of that goal, it came closer to passing than any previous attempts at medical marijuana legislation, and it isn’t dead yet.
When last we heard from SB 150, it had progressed through multiple committees before the clock ran down on the 2021 legislative session. But Davis remained undeterred, and said on Twitter that the bill “will be the first debated when the SC Senate reconvenes next January,” according to WCIV.
Davis told FitsNews.com in May “I had hoped it would be debated and voted on before we adjourned in May, but other matters important to the Senate GOP caucus… ended up receiving priority and I was willing to wait my turn, even though I’d been working on this for seven years.”
Davis’ patience may finally pay off for him and his suffering constituents in 2022, assuming his fellow Republicans follow through on the promises they made to him after scuttling floor debate over SC 150 in 2021.
“I appreciate Senator Massey’s and the Senate GOP caucus members’ commitment to set the medical-cannabis bill for special order debate as the first order of business in the Senate when we return in January, and to then give the bill an up-or-down vote,” Davis told FitsNews.com.
2021 Saw Continued Scientific Support for Medical Marijuana
Last year also saw a number of scientific studies that found support for cannabis’ medicinal value.
Perhaps the most exciting of the studies, because of both what was learned in the study and who conducted it, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry in October.
Led by Medical University of South Carolina doctoral student Erin Martin, this home-grown study found evidence that medical marijuana could effectively treat three very common conditions, indicating that the medicine could be of great relief to literally millions of people around the world.
Martin’s study found that participants who began a medical marijuana regimen showed reduced anxiety, depression, and sleep disorder symptoms. And as Martin explained, depression and anxiety are not only highly common, but they’re difficult to treat with traditional pharmaceuticals.
“Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly prevalent,” she told psychology website PsyPost. “Traditional antidepressants may effectively treat these disorders in a lot of people, but they do not work for everyone and can have unpleasant side effects.”
Martin was right to call anxiety and depression “highly prevalent.” Worldwide, more than thirty million people suffer from depression. Domestically, as many as nine million Americans have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That makes a study like this a really big deal, because it once again reaffirms findings from previous studies, and moves us that much closer to the day when medical marijuana is afforded the same respect given to pharmaceutical medications.
And that’s a big deal, because pharmaceutical medications often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. Traditional antidepressants can take months to show results, and often come with a host of negative side effects. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, can show antidepressant effects immediately after dosing, and cannabis’ side effects are generally well tolerated.
But a study such as this one is a big deal beyond the way it could directly help patients, even though it only confirms what earlier studies have shown. Legislators are often reluctant to support medical marijuana reform because there is so much more research devoted to traditional pharmaceuticals. And as we’ve said, each new study that confirms cannabis’ medical value gets us closer to the day when it’s treated like any other medicine and made accessible to those who need it.
But those new studies also embolden timid legislators, who are reluctant to support medical marijuana because of the relative lack of scientific studies devoted to it as compared to pharmaceutical studies. New findings like those we saw in 2021 thus help break the medical marijuana research “bottleneck” and increase the odds of legislative action in medical marijuana’s favor.
Changing Politics, Public Opinion Favor Medical Marijuana in 2022
And 2021 gave us one final reason to be optimistic for medical marijuana’s chance in South Carolina in 2022: After a few years of evidence to show that South Carolinians support medical marijuana, 2021 brought evidence that politicians are starting to come around on the issue.
South Carolinians Support Medical Marijuana
For at least the last few years, Palmetto State residents have been on the side of medical marijuana.
According to Greensboro Fox affiliate WGHP, “A 2016 Winthrop Poll found that 78% of South Carolinians supported the legalization of medical cannabis… (and a) 2018 Benchmark Research poll also showed 72% of South Carolinians supported legalizing medical cannabis, with 63% of Republicans in favor.”
That last note about Republicans is especially noteworthy, as traditionally the GOP has been opposed to easing marijuana prohibitions. Any hope a medical marijuana bill has of passing in South Carolina depends upon winning over converts from that side of the aisle, and 2021 showed us that’s happening.
Sure, the GOP-controlled Senate ultimately opted not to bring SB 150 to the floor for debate in 2021. But the bill has five Republican co-sponsors in addition to Senator Davis. When one also considers that the bill also has nine Democrat sponsors, one can see a bipartisan consensus forming around medical marijuana.
And that means that although 2021 didn’t go exactly as we’d have liked, it did leave medical marijuana supporters with reason to be optimistic about the chances for 2022.
You Don’t Have to Wait on SB 150 to Start Getting Ready for Medical Marijuana
But you don’t have to wait to see what 2022 will bring before you can start getting ready for medical marijuana’s inevitable arrival in South Carolina.
Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors just as soon as the state’s medical marijuana program is up and running.
You’ll use your smartphone or computer to meet with your new doctor virtually in a telemedicine session. Together you’ll discuss your conditions and whether you qualify for medical marijuana, without even leaving your home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
South Carolina Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6670, or simply reserve an appointment to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out South Carolina Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information!