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Editorial: Medical marijuana

Posted: May 26, 2015 8:10 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Though the legalization of medical marijuana appears to be a dead issue in this session of the General Assembly, we hope lawmakers won’t forget about it and that there will be an attempt to revive the issue next year. It is, of course, an emotional matter for many people, and there are those who believe legalizing marijuana for medical purposes will be the first wave of massive use by people who are trying to skirt the law. Both the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division and S.C. Medical Association oppose the bill, with a former president of the medical association saying giving physicians the power to write prescriptions for the medical use of cannabis would make them gatekeepers to an illicit drug trade. But doctors can currently prescribe a number of medications -- we’ll just use oxycodone as one example -- which are abused and sold on the black market. Nobody would realistically say physicians shouldn’t be able to prescribe drugs which would ease the pain of chronic and horrid diseases.

Critics also say evidence which supports the use of medical marijuana is anecdotal. Of course it is, but it is powerful. Many victims of horrid diseases have testified as to its effectiveness as a pain-relieving agent. The bill currently in the legislature specifies a number of maladies for which it could be prescribed, among them cancer, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease.

We don’t doubt the bill’s opponents believe in what they’re doing. But we also don’t doubt the testimony of so many people who have endured painful maladies and have had their pain helped by medical marijuana. Perhaps some opponents would change their minds if those people were family members or close friends. There are sufficient safeguards which can be put in place to largely prevent abuse. In the name of compassion, a medical marijuana bill need to be passed in this state.

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