COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers and advocates are once again making a strong push for medical marijuana and solar energy.
They said 2019 is the year bills will be passed.
When it comes to medical marijuana, lawmakers said the people of South Carolina are overwhelmingly in support of it. A recent Benchmark Research poll shows 72 percent of South Carolinians are in favor of medical marijuana.
“That’s why it’s going to get over the finish line this session in Columbia because it is what the people want,” Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) said.
On Thursday, legislators advanced a resolution asking the federal government to open more research on medical uses for marijuana. Last session, lawmakers in both the Senate and House had legislation in the works, but nothing came out of it.
In 2014, former Governor Nikki Haley signed a law allowing CBD oil to be prescribed for people with epilepsy and in trials. CBD oil is a herbal treatment that uses extracts from cannabis plants.
Sen. Davis said he is putting together a bill to allow medical marijuana. He said the bill isn’t going to set to set the foundation for recreational use in the state of South Carolina.
“If they want to put medicine in the hands of patients who need it under the supervision of a doctor, this can be a model. That’s what I’m taking a lot of pride in,” Davis said.
Representatives Rosalyn Henderson-Myers and Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter have pre-filed in the House to legalize medical marijuana.
Another issue that is getting renewed support is solar energy and alternative energy options.
“We’re going to provide ratepayers with an option to expand solar,” House Judiciary Chairman Representative Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) said.
Legislators got together at the State House lobby to announce companion bills they are filing in the House and Senate. They said the bills will inject more competition in the energy marketplace.
A bipartisan conservation organization, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, has outlined a 100-day plan for energy competition in the state. The plan is 100 days because solar net metering programs in the Upstate expire in March and other areas of the state in mid-2019. That will eliminate South Carolinians’ ability to choose solar energy, advocates and lawmakers said.
“That’s the real problem, once that cap is met there aren’t any options for us,” Representative and House Judiciary Chairman Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) said.
The bills will also allow solar energy to compete on the open energy market.
Sen. Davis has filed the bill in the Senate.
“The need is there, the want is there and the appetite for this is there for folks to take a look at this,” Rep. McCoy said. “It provides jobs for our states. It gives the opportunity for rate payers to break away from the monopoly and utilities.