Veterans lead the charge to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — For the past few years, Republican Senator Tom Davis has worked to pass legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Currently, 37 other states, including Alabama and Mississippi, have already done so. However, the Palmetto State may not be the 38th anytime soon.

Possession of cannabis can land someone in the Palmetto State 30 days to a year in prison. 

“If they want to continue to war on cannabis in South Carolina, that’s fine, said Marine Corps veteran Cody Callarman. “Can we at least agree to get the sick and dying off the battlefield?

While living in California, Callarman received relief from PTSD and other pain through marijuana. He is hoping for cannabis to have a similar positive effect for veterans here in South Carolina. Many veterans are already on board. 

“We claim that we are the best state for veterans but we turn out back on them. We consider them to be criminals instead of the heroes they come back as,” said Steven Diaz, a Marine Corps veteran.

One Army veteran came back and faced many problems after serving his country before finding cannabis.

“Alcoholism was my crutch at the time. I was being prescribed various pills but I chose to pursue plant-based medicine,” said veteran Everett Weston. “Cannabis has effectively saved my life. It has gotten me on a path to tackling my issues with anxiety and depression and made me a high-functioning member of society.”

Some members of the medical community also recognize the medicinal use for marijuana, saying it can help with symptoms from a variety of illnesses including cancer or AIDS. 

“Research does show that it is effective. Again, it’s not for recreational use. It’s for medical use only,” said Dr. Stephanie Burgess, family nurse practitioner. 

Last year, the Compassionate Care Act, which would allow for non-smokable medical marijuana, passed in the Senate but died in the House due to a technicality. 

Even so, the bill has support from both sides of the aisle. 

“If you talk about freedom and liberty, that’s what this is about,” said Republican Rep. Matt Leber. “Give parents and veterans a choice to use a different sort of medication that has been proven to work.”

“This is not street marijuana. This is not recreational cannabis,” said Democrat Rep. Deon Tedder. “This is medical cannabis that is used to save lives. We need to move now.”

Lawmakers agree that time is of the essence if medical marijuana is going to be legalized this year. 

“Because if we don’t take action in 77 hours, it’s dead for the year,” said Sen. Mike Fanning on Tuesday, a Democrat who represents Fairfield County. 

According to a recent poll, 72 percent of South Carolina residents support cannabis being used for medical purposes.


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