Melissa Oremus says medical marijuana is 'divided question' for S.C. House Republicans

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Apr. 27—The South Carolina House of Representatives Republican Caucus may be divided over whether medical marijuana should be legalized in the Palmetto State.

During the April meeting of the Aiken Republican Club, S.C. Rep. Melissa Oremus, R-Aiken, was asked for the caucus's position on medical marijuana. She represents the Midland Valley area.

S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and S.C. Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, introduced bills during the 125th session of the General Assembly that would legalize medical marijuana in certain, limited circumstances.

"It is a divided question," Oremus said. "We have sat in caucus — I'm not supposed to talk about what we talk about during closed door sessions so I won't do that — but just know it's a very divided issue."

Oremus and the rest of the Republican Caucus members are limited by Caucus Rule 15 which prohibits members from disclosing what happens in the caucus meetings to any third party whatsoever in order to foster open and frank discussion among members.

She said Republicans have been provided data showing medical marijuana's benefits for patients with terminal diseases and epileptic children. Oremus added her grandfather who lived in Tennessee was prescribed medical marijuana.

"Of course, the compassion is there and the Republicans are all for that," Oremus said. "But, when does it stop? When does it turn into a crutch for some and they actually need it and, for others, it becomes their gateway drug?"

She said doctors don't want to prescribe medical marijuana and law enforcement officers don't want to try to enforce laws saying who should have access and who shouldn't.

Oremus said she did not know what would happen if one of the bills made it to the House floor during the remaining eight days of session.

She added there are lobbyists in the Statehouse every day advocating for the bill but said there is data from other states and cities, like California, Colorado and Chicago, that shows limited benefits to legalization.