Local law enforcement concerned about new medical marijuana bill

A house panel earlier this week advanced a bill intended to legalize marijuana for medical use, though some in law enforcement still have concerns about the bill.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – A house panel earlier this week advanced a bill intended to legalize marijuana for medical use, though some in law enforcement still have concerns about the bill.

“How’s it gonna be regulated?” asked Darlington Police Chief Danny Watson.

Watson’s question is the same many in law enforcement across the state have as well when it comes to a bill aimed a legalizing medical marijuana in South Carolina.

“We just need to approach it with some caution,” advised Watson.

A house panel voted unanimously Tuesday, after listening to dozens of patients and family members tell them how marijuana use eased chronic pain, epilepsy, and even PTSD.

“If there’s any kind of treatment that is possible to ease someone’s pain who has a significant medical need then of course we would,” Watson said.

The “Compassionate Care Act” would allow those suffering from chronic illnesses and other diseases to buy up to two ounces of mauijuana from a licensed dispensary, as long as a doctor signs off.

Watson, though, still has some questions about the legislation.

“Basically you get two ounces and you know, you can use it the same day or go back two days from now,” said Chief Watson. “How do we know that it’s not being distributed to other folks?”

The bill would create what lawmakers call a seed-to-scale tracking program to avoid the plant getting into the wrong hands. Cardholders who qualify for the medical marijuana program could also face fines and criminal prosecution if they let someone else use their medicine.

Even so, Chief Watson worries about people getting behind the wheel under the influence.

“Right now you can drive down the street smoking a cigarette,” said Watson. “What would be the difference in driving down the road and smoking a marijuana cigarette? You can’t go out and drink a bottle of liquor while you’re driving; both of them have degrading effects on your motor skills.”

State law enforcement officials at the House hearing on Tuesday also had reservations about how to keep medical cannabis out of the hands of those who want to use it recreationally, something Watson worries could be the biggest challenge of this legislation.

“I have concerns about it,” the Chief said. “Of course we’ll bend to the will of the legislature, but at the same time we do have concerns about it and I think that we should voice them.”

The bill will head to a full committee as soon as next week.