As a family medicine and public-health physician practicing in South Carolina for the past 40 years, I see the proposed system for making marijuana available for evidence-based medical treatments as severely flawed.
S.212 provides for a wholly unnecessary system of marijuana cultivation centers, processing sites and dispensaries. The Federal Drug Administration is already working with the federal Drug Enforcement Authority to increase legitimate research on marijuana products for medical use, and the DEA has a well-established system to handle prescription narcotics.
Since the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve an oral solution of pure plant-derived cannabidiol in the next 12-15 months, the federal system logically should be the one used.
A clear majority of South Carolinians — 77 percent in a 2016 Winthrop Poll — agree that “medical marijuana” should be “regulated by the FDA like current medications.” FDA oversight under the auspices of DEA designation of marijuana as a legal Schedule II controlled drug is what our state needs. There is no need for South Carolina to re-invent the wheel.
Additionally, S.212 creates a wholly unnecessary system of “medical marijuana” cardholders, while leaving significant loopholes regarding dosing amounts and tracking of how much an individual purchases over time. Once again, the current registration system for prescribing and tracking narcotic drug use should be used here, in conjunction with South Carolina’s prescription drug monitoring system. Existing cooperative agreements with prescription drug monitoring systems in Georgia and North Carolina are effectively limiting drug-seeking behavior by narcotics abusers. So it can be with medical marijuana.
S.212 also requires our state to honor non-resident “medical marijuana” recommendation cards, which opens up our state to users from states that do not require in-person physician evaluations to obtain these “recommendations.” Our system of traditional drug prescription methods (hand-written or electronic) should be used for non-resident “medical marijuana” users requesting refills.
In short, this bill does not live up to its promise of compassionate care. It is critically flawed, and our legislators should instead use our current federal and state drug enforcement systems, in conjunction with upcoming FDA approval of medical marijuana practices that have been proven effective through evidence-based research now underway.
David F. Keely, M.D.
The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.