A number of military veterans in South Carolina are pushing lawmakers in the state to legalize medical marijuana. 

Local news station WACH reports this week on the group of vets, who “say it needs to be a top priority for lawmakers when they return to the state house in January after several proposals were stopped in their tracks earlier this year.”

“No one has died from an overdose with cannabis ever,” Cody Callarman, a former member of the Marine corps, told the news station. “For me, I can say, it definitely helps me to go to sleep and stay sleep and alleviate a lot of nightmares.”

“I say this is the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and we were the brave ones. We should have our choice of medical treatment,” Callarman added.

Another veteran named Robert Leheup told the station that the “idea of us not allowing veterans to have access to these tools is something that we need to remedy immediately.”

“It’s definitely one of those things that if you use it, along with counseling for example, it has the potential to have profound impacts,” Leheup told the station. 

Lawmakers in South Carolina considered a medical cannabis bill earlier this year. The legislation won approval in the state Senate, but in May, it was voted down in the state House of Representatives

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state Sen. Tom Davis, has been in the vanguard of the effort to legalize medical cannabis treatment in the state for years. 

“If you pound at the door long enough. If you make your case. If the public is asking for something, the state Senate owes a debate,” Davis said in January. “The people of South Carolina deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue.”

After the legislation was approved in the state Senate in February, Davis commended his colleagues. 

“Even those that were opposed to the bill, I mean, they could’ve just been opposed. They could’ve ranted against it, they could’ve tried to delay things. They didn’t. They expressed their concerns, but what they then did is dug in and tried to make the bill better. And so, what you saw over the last three weeks is what’s supposed to happen in a representative democracy,” Davis said at the time.

But in May, Davis’s bill was rejected by his counterparts in the state House of Representatives by a vote of 59-55.

“We suffered a setback procedurally in the House today,” Davis said at the time. “I can’t cry about it. I can’t pout about it. I can’t come back and lash out and try to hurt other people’s bills. That’s not productive. I just need to find out a way to get this thing on the merits up or down in the House and that’s what I’m going to be working on.”

Should lawmakers take up the proposal in the upcoming session, there will be opposition.

Local news station WACH quoted state House Rep. Vic Dabney, a veteran himself, who said he intends to oppose the next legislation.

“I know a lot of veterans that are not sitting down eating gummy bears laced with cannabis,” Dabney told the station. “We’ve got enough drugged up people in America as it is.”

“It was going to be another government program and a huge boondoggle where you’d have more than 400 dispensaries across the state,” Dabney added. “That was further reasons for me to vote against it.”

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