South Carolina Senate advances ‘most conservative’ medical marijuana bill

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The South Carolina Senate narrowly approved what its sponsor says is the “most conservative” medical marijuana legalization bill in the United States

However, even that might not pass a “skeptical” state House, where lawmakers used a parliamentarian trick to kill a similar bill two years ago, The Post and Courier reported Wednesday.

Sponsored by Beaufort-based Republican Sen. Tom Davis, Senate Bill 423 would:

  • Limit medical marijuana access to people suffering from a specific list of “debilitating or terminal conditions.”
  • Require a licensed pharmacist to dispense the drug.
  • Ban smokable flower outright and limit cannabis products to “unflavored” edibles, tinctures or vaporizers.
  • Impose felony charges for anyone in possession of cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation.

The Senate voted 24-19 on Wednesday to approve SB 423, which Davis said is similar – but even more restrictive – to MMJ legislation that passed that chamber two years ago but died in the House.

If passed, SB 423 would limit MMJ businesses in the state to:

  • No more than three licensed “therapeutic cannabis pharmacies” per county.
  • Fifteen “cultivation centers” with no more than 87,120 square feet of canopy.
  • Thirty processing centers.
  • Four licensed transporters.
  • Five testing laboratories.

South Carolina remains one of the few holdout states that have legalized neither medical nor adult-use cannabis.

According to an April 2023 Winthrop University poll, 76% of South Carolina voters support medical marijuana, with 56% in favor of adult-use legalization.

But that status quo appears likely to remain even as federal marijuana policy slowly shifts, The Post and Courier reported.

Both law enforcement and “casual marijuana users” oppose SB 423, the newspaper reported – police, because it’s too liberal; cannabis users because it’s too restrictive.