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Cannabis Watch: South Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma eye cannabis measures as Congress stalls

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At least three states may make fresh moves to ease back on cannabis prohibition in 2023 even as Congress remains inactive for now on federal legalization.

At last count, 37 U.S. states have medical programs and 21 allow adult-use cannabis.

Oklahoma voters will go to the polls on March 7 to decide the fate of a referendum to support adult-use cannabis. The ballot was originally planned for the November ballot after a group called Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws collected 164,000 signatures, but ended up for a vote this year on an executive order from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who personally opposes adult use. Oklahoma voters OK’d medical cannabis back in 2018.

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In South Carolina, members of the state legislature have prefiled two measures ahead of the body’s first session on Jan. 10, as reported by MJBiz.com.

The Put Patients First Act co-sponsored by Democrat Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and Republican Jay Kilmartin would allow cannabis use for qualified patients with a doctor prescription in a program similar to many other states.

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would allow cannabis for debilitating medical conditions.

However, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a staunch opponent of cannabis, would likely veto any measure. It’s unclear if either law would draw enough votes to override it.

Meanwhile, Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, in November filed the States Reform Acet legislation to legalize cannabis on the federal level.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday asked the legislature to legalize medical use of cannabis in his state of the union speech.

Beshear cited Kentucky cancer patient Chasity Harney who used medical cannabis for relief after trying prescription pain medicine.

Beshear issued an executive order in November to allow possession and use of small amounts of marijuana purchased legally in other states, for medical use to treat 21 illnesses. He’s been calling on Kentucky lawmakers to fully legalize medical cannabis to spark job growth and support Kentucky’s farmers.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers promoted cannabis measures as he was sworn in earlier this week for his second term.

“We must have a meaningful conversation about treating marijuana much like we do alcohol,” Evers said.

Evers, a Democrat, faces strong opposition from Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Evers is expected to repeat his 2021 move to include adult-use cannabis and medical-use cannabis measures in his 2022 budget, but so far the state legislature has opposed him on this front.

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