Tags Posts tagged with "South Carolina"

South Carolina

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The state of South Carolina’s General Assembly recently legalized the farming of industrial hemp. As local newspapers quickly clarified the difference between hemp and its more popular relative marijuana, state politicians and farmers jumped for joy.

“Any agricultural crop we can cultivate here and make a profit for our farmers, we should try,” said Republican State Senator Greg Hembree.

After all, agribusiness is the No. 1 industry in the Palmetto State, so farmers are also celebrating.

South Carolina really needed this

South Carolina farmer Neal Baxley, confirmed that he is definitely interested in planting hemp on some of his available fields where “sunshine is frequent and rain is regular.”

“We’re in an economically depressed region of the state,” said Baxley “So why couldn’t South Carolina attract a new industry, something that has some growth potential? The more people who get the opportunity to get involved in agriculture, the better I think we are in the long run.”

Democratic Representative Russell Ott, co-sponsor of the bipartisan Hemp Bill, said he wouldn’t be surprised if farmers are growing hemp in the next few months.

“The bottom line is, we could have hemp being grown in South Carolina this year. And that’s exciting,” said Ott, who is also a farmer.

People are expecting South Carolina’s authorities to issue at least 20 licenses to grow crops on up to 20 acres as a pilot program, with more to be added soon.

“It’s my hope that they will act very quickly,” said State Sen. Danny Verdin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Today, about 90 percent of the hemp used in the United States for industrial purposes is imported from China. But, it’s time to bring it back home.

One of the fastest-growing plants in the world and known as the most versatile plant on earth, hemp is used for making all manner of essential objects such as paper, textiles, cloth, biodegradable plastics, paint, biofuel—the list is long.

But, because it is part of the marijuana plant, it was declared illegal in the U.S. in 1937. The industry is just barely getting back in on its feet again, thanks to the 2014 farm bill passed under President Obama.

One of the problems about sanctioning hemp cultivation has been due to the spread of a spurious lie that large hemp fields could be used to mask weed cultivation. John Finamore, executive director of the National Hemp Association in Denver, shot that notion down.

“The last thing a marijuana grower wants to do is grow them together,” he stated, noting that hemp is the dominant of the two species and would neutralize the psychoactive compounds in marijuana.

And no one wants that.

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A Senate panel approved a proposal permitting South Carolina farmers to grow industrial hemp through a pilot program set up with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. The proposal would create a system to regulate the growing, selling, and importation of industrial hemp in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and for study by an academic facility, such as Clemson University. Senators recently took testimony from law enforcement officials who cited issues with the Senate proposal and instead encouraged them to allow the House legislation to work its way through the system.

Executive director with the S.C. Sheriffs’ Association, Jarrod Bruder, said though law enforcement typically has concerns about industrial hemp, all parties worked together to reach a compromise in the House. The House version limits the number of farmers in the first years of the program to fifteen and allows law enforcement to do random testing of the plants to ensure marijuana is not being grown. Bruder stated, “We got to a point in the House where, I wouldn’t say we endorse it, but it got to a point where we could hold our nose and say it was good. It was something that we could live with.”

The measure passed a Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee three to one, with members saying they planned to amend the proposal in the full committee to address the concerns of law enforcement. Senator Rex Rice voted against the proposal. In addition to oil, hemp can be made into products such as rope, clothing, paper, canvas, soap, and even some food and drinks, such as butter and milk. The Senate proposal is similar to one that will be going to the full House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.

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Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in four states, there are at least eleven other states considering changing their policies this year.

1. Connecticut
Not only are lawmakers expecting to expand Connecticut’s five-year-old medical cannabis legislation, but Martin Looney, the state’s Democratic Senate President pro tem, introduced a bill recently that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

2. Missouri
The Missouri Recreational Marijuana Legalization Initiative did not make the ballot in 2016, however the state did pass medical use. Missouri’s secretary of state, Jason Kander, has endorsed a petition behind the initiative pushing to legalize recreational use.

3. New Hampshire
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn said he would introduce recreational legislation this year, but first, a group of legislators introduced House Bill 215 on January 4, commissioning a study of the current cannabis laws in other states. Results of that research will be released on December 1, 2017.

4. New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed a measure that would decriminalize cannabis, according to the Washington Times. In his 2017 legislative agenda, he wrote, “Data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety.”

5. Rhode Island
For seven years, Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow the use of marijuana recreationally. It would impose a 23% tax.

6. South Carolina
South Carolina passed a bill in 2014 allowing cannabis oil for medical use, however lawmakers recently introduced the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize cannabis for terminally ill individuals, as well as people with “debilitating medical conditions.”

7. Tennessee
Two cities in Tennessee have already decriminalized marijuana; recently, Representative Jeremy Faison told The Marijuana Times that he wants full medical use across the state and plans to introduce a bill in the 2017 legislative session to legalize medicinal use.

8. Texas
On the first day of the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers in TX filed multiple requests to decriminalize cannabis. Instead of being thrown in jail, anyone caught with minor amounts of marijuana would be charged with a civil infraction and a $250 fine.

9. Utah
House Speaker Greg Hughes told the Deseret News that medical cannabis could be the biggest issue of the session. However, word on the street is that most legislators in Utah think it is smart to wait for the federal government to act.

10. Virginia
Governor Terry McAuliffe stated he wishes to legalize medical cannabis this year, and legislators in Virginia are following through. They filed a bill this month to decriminalize cannabis and only fine for possession.

11. Wisconsin
Medical cannabis is only legal for people suffering from seizures in Wisconsin, but lawmakers hope to expand the current law to make medicinal marijuana legal for all.

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South Carolina is a state that barely allows patients access to non-intoxicating types of cannabis oil. One state lawmaker plans to change that in the 2017 session by suggesting a proposal aimed at establishing a more comprehensive medical cannabis program.

Senator Tom Davis, who is thought of one of the state’s leading forces in the push for marijuana reform, has introduced a bill called the Compassionate Care Act, which would allow patients with a variety of health conditions to purchase cannabis from state licensed dispensaries as long as they have a doctor’s approval.

Senator Davis told a group earlier this week, “If a doctor in his or her professional opinion believes that cannabis can be of a medicinal benefit to a patient for whatever reason, whether it’s epilepsy, PTSD or glaucoma or any number of things, and then why should 170 politicians in Columbia be the ones that say no?” Davis continued, “ I really think it says something about our state negatively that we do not allow doctors to make decisions that are in their patients’ best interest. I mean to me that’s not what an enlightened, concerned and caring state does.”

Davis’ bill would not give patients the freedom to engage in home cultivation, unlike similar legislation introduced by State Representative Todd Rutherford, which would give individuals with only a handful of serious conditions access to medical cannabis. Providing patients with safe medicine, while keeping a tight leash on marijuana production, is the goal of the Compassionate Care Act, according to Davis.

Last year, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that she would be open to discussing the issue of a more comprehensive program. Reports indicate that Haley has already had several meetings with Senator Davis on the subject, but she has not signaled whether she would sign a reform of this magnitude if it lands on her desk this year.

It will first be up to the state legislature to get onboard with the concept. Last year, the South Carolina Senate voted 7 to 4 against a medical cannabis bill brought forth by Senator Davis. One thing is certain, South Carolina residents support the issue. The latest Winthrop Polls finds that 78% of the state’s citizens are in favor of medical cannabis.

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On Thursday, South Carolina Senators voted 7-4 against a bill that would have made a protected and available medical cannabis program in the state. As indicated by WLTX, the bill would have allowed doctors to endorse therapeutic marijuana to patients experiencing debilitating restorative conditions, for example, cancer, glaucoma and chronic pain.

“This is something that is providing real relief to people who are suffering,” the main sponsor of the bill, Senator Tom Davis, told the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.

In any case, Davis was not able to influence his kindred committee members, a considerable bunch of whom stood opposed to the bill because of the likelihood of legal medical cannabis advancing into reproducing hands.

“Back in my district, every single medical professional that contacted me about this bill is against it,” Sen. Kevin Johnson stated. “And they explained to me why and they made some very valid points. And then all my law enforcement people in my district are against this bill.”

“This is a bad idea,” Sen. Mike Fair concluded. “It’s a pathway to recreational usage.”

Be that as it may, as indicated by Davis, the bill was composed with safety measures set up to avert such “recreational usage,” including a seed-to-sale tracking system. While most unquestionably a misfortune for medical cannabis in the state, the Senate’s dismissal does not imply that medical marijuana is totally off the table. A similar bill that is presently in the South Carolina House is giving cannabis activists trust.

“We’re not completely dead-in-the-water yet because there is a companion bill in the House that has also already passed subcommittee,” explained Jill Swing, the mother of an eight-year-old who takes CBD oil to reduce seizures. “So, I think what we do is go over to the House side and try to get them to push the bill from over there.”

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Hillary Clinton has changed her position on marijuana only slightly on marijuana legalization over the weekend, after avoiding the issue for months during her presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton said that she would like for the federal government to change how it regulates marijuana so that researchers can experiment on medical marijuana during a town hall in South Carolina.

At the moment, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, which means that the government considers it useless along with drugs such as heroin. Clinton announced that as president, she would reclassify weed to Schedule 2, which is what drugs such as painkillers are categorized under. This would mean that marijuana would still be illegal for recreational use, but it would open the door for medical uses.

Clinton is still not as much of a marijuana advocate as her leading competitor, Bernie Sanders. Sanders called it “absurd” just a month ago that the feds still treat weed the same way that they treat drugs as dangerous as heroin. Another absurd thing that Sanders pointed out was that anti-marijuana laws seem to be much more geared towards African Americans than any other race. A week ago, Sanders introduced a bill that would end the federal ban on marijuana. Under this bill, states could still choose whether or not they want recreational use, but states such as Colorado and Washington have already legalized marijuana no longer need to fear intervention from the feds.

Legalization is on pace to becoming the top social causes among the democratic party, with polls now showing that now more than half the country supports legalizing marijuana. However, Clinton has been hesitant when discussing marijuana reform, saying that she has her eye on the state-level legalization experiments while still trying to decide what she thinks on the issue.

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