Former South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper now leading effort - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Former South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper leading effort to legalize medical marijuana

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A former trooper who once enforced drug laws is now leading a one-man quest to raise awareness about medical marijuana.

The debate over medical marijuana at the state house caught many lawmakers and South Carolina residents by surprise because of how rapidly it became a topic of importance.

Chris Raffield, a former state trooper who now pushes for the legalization of medical marijuana, said it's moved quickly and he's glad.

But he says there's more work to be done.

Photos from Chris Raffield's time in South Carolina Highway Patrol line his living room.

As he speaks, a dog from his own no-kill animal shelter licks his face.

The walking stick by his side is a stark reminder of the pain he lives with from MS and spinal surgery that's left him unable to fully turn his neck and back.

"I went to two pain management doctors, and it was just more and more pain medication which, I was not able to really function," Raffield said.

One doctor mentioned using marijuana to ease his pain and bring back his appetite.

"It keeps me from staying in the bed," Raffield said. "It makes that much of a difference."

Raffield took to the steps of the State House, meeting every legislator who'd listen.

As he went from office to office during the 2014 session inside the State House legalizing medical marijuana became a serious debate.

"I've gotten more push to bring back medical marijuana than anything else I've done in 16 years," Raffield said. "They listened. In fact, some closed the door with me and wanted to know more about it."

A cannabis oil push by state Senator Tom Davis became law in 2014.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford's push for medical marijuana didn't make it through but he says he's already prepared to refile it again in December.

"It's about using something God provides," Rutherford said. "It's from the earth. Using something natural to stop people's medical conditions."

Rutherford said there's still opposition to the idea of marijuana being anything but illegal.

But both he and Raffield point out more people are interested in the debate which means people are listening.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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