Kevin Fisher in 2018

Kevin Fisher

“SC Attorney General Alan Wilson called marijuana ‘the most dangerous drug in America…’” —The State, Jan. 23

Wilson’s jaw-dropping comment brought to mind another incident in which the attorney general overstated his case, that being his attempted firing of special prosecutor David Pascoe in 2016. I wrote this at the time:

“Alan Wilson’s performance at the March 28, 2016 news conference was an embarrassment to both himself and his office. And besides that, John Monk kicked his ass.” — CityWatch, April 6, 2016

I didn’t think Attorney General Wilson would ever repeat that kind of fiasco, which involved him having a public meltdown and trying to fire special prosecutor David Pascoe for trying to seek indictments from the State Grand Jury in the State House corruption probe.

But then came Wilson’s recent news conference, at which he became the only politician to declare marijuana the most dangerous drug in America. Or at least the only one to do so since the 1950s. Apparently the attorney general hasn’t heard about that little opioid problem our country is having.

Back to that in a moment, but first a review of Wilson’s adventures in the Pascoe dismissal disaster.

In going to the State Grand Jury to present the evidence, Pascoe was not only doing what prosecutors are there to do but also acting in conjunction with SLED Chief Mark Keel and with the blessing of Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman.

Nevertheless, Wilson — who had recused himself from the investigation due to his ties with the Richard Quinn political firm, a major focus of the investigation — decided to stop Pascoe from doing his job.

Further, Wilson attacked The State’s long-time and widely respected political reporter, John Monk, for daring to ask an obvious question at the news conference about the attorney general’s action possibly impeding the investigation.

Demanding to know where Monk got his information (which came from publicly filed and available pleadings on the issue made to the S.C. Supreme Court), Wilson said, “I don’t know how you knew they were filed, but someone told you.”

In a comeback for the ages, Monk replied: “I’ve been doing that for 40 years, there’s nothing new about it.”

Completing Wilson’s self-immolation on the issue, a few months later the S.C. Supreme Court overruled his firing of Pascoe. The court reinstated the special prosecutor, who then went to the State Grand Jury and got those indictments.

But if you thought that experience might have made Wilson a bit more cautious in his public statements about controversial matters, think again.

Following the attorney general’s January remarks about the medical marijuana bill, the chief sponsor, S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), put Wilson’s comments in perfect context. Said Davis, “It’s like walking back into a 1950’s remake of Reefer Madness. We had the attorney general of South Carolina look people in the eye and say ‘the most dangerous drug in America is marijuana.’”

And this point must be emphasized, as it is the crux of the matter: Wilson made the statement not while voicing his opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana (opposing that is fine with me) but while voicing his opposition to legalizing medical marijuana (opposing that is certainly not fine with me).

Nor should it be fine with anyone who cares about their fellow man/woman/child who is suffering terribly from various horrible diseases that the use of medical marijuana can help alleviate.

On this issue, the medical evidence is strong, public opinion even stronger. To be opposed to the use of medical marijuana is to be opposed to science. And medicine. And humanity.

Thirty-four states have now recognized that reality, with the list of those legalizing medical marijuana including a growing number of generally conservative states, such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Utah and West Virginia.

And where do South Carolina citizens stand on the issue? It’s not a close call.

A December 2018 statewide survey by Benchmark Research showed 72 percent of South Carolinians support legalizing medical marijuana. And that includes 63 percent of Republicans, Mr. Attorney General.

In Wilson’s defense, some law enforcement and medical association officials share his opinion. Further, Gov. Henry McMaster has suggested he may veto the bill if it passes.

But failure to distinguish between legalizing recreational marijuana and legalizing medical marijuana is malpractice in my view, both medical and political.

Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics. Let us know what you think: Email editor@free-times.com.

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