South Carolina may soon see medical marijuana dispensaries, like this one in Denver, Colorado. (Vince Chandler, Denver Post file)

‘I’m tired of seeing people suffering’: South Carolina medical marijuana bill gains ground

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On opening day of the state Legislature’s 2017 session, a bipartisan group of legislators touted the latest proposal legalizing South Carolina medical marijuana, indicating support for the previously rejected idea is growing in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Supporters said it’s time for politicians to allow people who are seriously ill or suffering from chronic pain to benefit from a plant that is a far better option than additive prescription opioids.

“I’m tired of seeing people suffering,” said Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Belton, whose 26-year-old son died last Easter after a years-long battle with opioid addiction that began with a high school soccer injury.

If doctors could prescribe cannabis instead of OxyContin and other addictive opioids to treat pain, or instead of methadone to help people trying to get sober, lives could be saved, he said.

Twenty-eight states already have medical marijuana laws.

Law enforcement officials have opposed previous bills, saying marijuana supposedly for medical use would instead be used socially.

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said he hopes this year’s bill addresses their concerns with seed-to-sale tracking, lab testing and patient registration.