According to an April 2014 Winthrop University Poll, 71.6 percent of South Carolinians (66.7 percent of registered voters) support doctor/patient access to medical marijuana. With a significant majority of Americans now supporting outright legalization of the herb, it’s time to decriminalize possession and to create an “affirmative defense” for medical use in South Carolina.

I had the opportunity to attend some of the S.C. Medical Marijuana Study Committee meetings, and I can tell you firsthand that there is a genuine need for the relief that medical cannabis can provide.

From children with autism and epilepsy to aging parents with Alzheimer’s, the need is real and in some cases desperate.

One of the largest patient groups that turned out to relate their stories were soldiers with PTSD. According to the testimony of many of these patients, cannabis/marijuana works far better, and with less toxicity and addiction potential, than the potent pharmaceutical options.

Marijuana decriminalization is a small, but necessary step to protect the citizens of South Carolina from the greatest harms caused by the current federal marijuana prohibition.

There is a bill (H.3117) in the state Legislature to decriminalize the use of marijuana. If you support this idea, please share your opinions with your representatives in Columbia. It only takes a minute to find your representatives and call their offices to demonstrate your support for this common sense shift in law enforcement policy.

Go to: scstatehouse.gov and choose “Find Your Legislators” from the menu on the left. Representative government only works with citizen participation.

Gregory Bayne

21st Avenue

Isle of Palms