INDIAN LAND — Anita Joye Moree believes in cannabis, but has no interest in getting high. The self-described conservative mother of five who wouldn’t be caught dead with a joint in her hand also wouldn’t hesitate to ingest cannabis in a non-smokable form if she needed it to ease chronic pain or some other medical issue.
Moree says believes all adults should have the right to the medicine that suits them and their doctors, including cannabis sativa, the flowering plant also known as marijuana, or pot. It’s a cousin to the plant that yields hemp and CBD oil and related products, which is growing in popularity for over-the-counter medical use.
Unlike CBD, however, cannabis remains as illegal for medical use in South Carolina as it does for recreational users. After several years of fits and starts, a medical cannabis bill called The S.C. Compassionate Care Act could be headed for votes in the S.C. Legislature this session. Moree, first vice president of Indian Land Republican Women, hopes for a good turnout at the group’s presentation 7-8 p.m. Feb. 14 at Hickory Tavern in Indian Land.
The group is hoping skeptics of medical cannabis will change their minds after learning more about its use and urge their state representatives to vote the bill into law.
The law is needed, Moree said, “so patients and their doctors can decide what’s best for their health.” There needs to be a clearly defined line between outlawed recreational use and lawful medical consumption, she said.
“Let law enforcement take care of criminals, but let doctors continue to take care of patients,” Moree said.
Another reason the bill has such tenacious support of Indian Land Republican women is they see cannabis as a non-addictive alternative to prescribed opioids, such as hydrocodone. Opioid addiction — prescribed medication and street drugs such as heroin alike — is at epidemic levels in the U.S.
The text of the bill notes that 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia now have laws on the books to allow and regulate cannabis for medical use and that in a reversal of policy under former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the federal government has signaled it will let states decide the issue. Cannabis remains outlawed for any use as far as U.S. law is concerned.
‘…clinical studies continue to show the therapeutic value of cannabis in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions’
Unlike the federal government’s decades-old official position that cannabis has no proven medical value, the CCA Act notes that “clinical studies continue to show the therapeutic value of cannabis in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions” and that “cannabis has many accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians to more than two million patients.”
While CBD Oil and similar products contain scant levels of THC, the chemical in cannabis that has an intoxicating effect on users, medical cannabis would have higher levels. It’s the THC that provides relief and other healing benefits that some patients don’t experience with CBD oil.
One reason Indian Land Republican Women members believe this could be the year the bill comes up for a vote and has a good chance to pass with bipartisan support is because we’re in an off-year politically.
“Being this is not an election year, the bill will likely be heard on the floor,” said Michelle, Simonetti, the group’s president and an experienced patient advocate.
“Last year it passed through committee. This year is a new bill with tight regulation proposing the most conservative medical bill any state has seen,” Simonetti said.
Simonetti, who will lead the presentation, urges residents to be proactive and help get the bill passed.
“Now is the time to call your legislator and ask them to vote yes on the Compassionate Care Act, Senate bill 366, House bill 0366,” she said, and even offers to help put residents in touch with their representatives.
“Email me at PanhandleVolunteers@gmail.com if you are not sure who your legislaltors are. It’s time families have an alternative to opioids.”
The bill, which would allow the creation of dispensaries where patients can fill prescriptions, prohibits the selling of medical cannabis in a form where it can be smoked or vaped. It would allow edible products — gummies, lollipops and baked goods are popular in states with medical cannabis laws — and other forms.
“Some patients have a hard time eating or swallowing, so something sublingual or topical would be available,” Moree said.
In interviews, both Moree and Simonetti kept repeating their insistence that this issue should appeal to fellow conservatives. They also both emphasized the need to provide patients with an alternative to opioid painkillers.
“I think that medicine and a doctor-patient relationship and the freedom to have that relationship and not have the government interfere with your health care choices is important,” Moree said.
‘I want them to see that normal, conservative, sometime church- going people are concerned about the availability of good medicine…’
“We conservatives always say we’re small government, freedom-minded people and this specific law is an example of that. And if I need relief from pain and I don’t want to be addicted to opioids and I need cannabis for a month or two, my doctor should be able to give me that choice.”
And what is the message she hopes the Feb. 14 event will project to the audience at-large?
“I want them to see that normal, conservative, sometimes church- going people are concerned about the availability of good medicine and concerned about the relationship between doctor and patient,” Moree said.
“There are people out there who are dying — give them what they want! There are also people who will heal and get better and it’s important for them to have the medicine they need to do that. There’s no reason to withhold medicine from anyone.”
Want to go?
What: Medical cannabis: the S.C. Compassionate Care Act
When: 7-8 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: Hickory Tavern, 8364 Charlotte Hwy., Indian Land 29707
Can’t make it? Indian Land Republican Women plan to stream the event live on their Facebook page.