Locals voice mixed reactions to legalizing medical marijuana in South Carolina

The South Carolina Democratic primary ballot in June will ask voters whether they support legalizing medical marijuana to treat severe illnesses.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Wednesday he wanted it on the ballot so the legislature's Republican leaders could see what voters think of the issue.

While some swear it is the only solution to help treat pain and chronic illnesses, others argue medical marijuana is just a gateway drug and can lead to heavier and more dangerous drug use.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 spoke with one man on the Grand Strand who uses cannabis he says just to live a normal life.

"When the doctor would say is your pain from 1 to 10 I would say 13," explained Jan Vaughan, who has been suffering from severe hip pain for more than 15 years, until he started using marijuana.

"I had started noticing that when I would use that my pain wouldn't be as severe. It would be much lessened, and I wouldn't have taken anything prior to that, except for cannabis," Vaughan explained.

He added that it was the only drug that worked to ease his pain with no side effects.

"Whenever I'd take narcotics I would always feel sick to my stomach, like I was going to be nauseated. You don't have none of that. It took the pain away."

Even though he buys it and uses it illegally in South Carolina, Vaughan swears it's the only reason he's able to function and still live a normal life. He's speaking out so that others can too. "It's time for people to realize that this is not a drug like cocaine, heroine, LSD, this is a hemp plant that has been grown and used in pharmacology for over 3,000 years."

But Betsy Fay, a registered nurse, disagrees. Fay says cannabis could lead to dependency and heavier drug use. She worries that if marijuana were to become legal, it could be difficult to control.

"I just think there's other solutions than marijuana and I see states like Colorado that are going to medicinal, I just don't see any way of controlling it," Fay explained.

Last week, State Representatives in South Carolina passed a bill that allows cannabis oil to be used by those with severe epilepsy.

The Senate has since referred it to the Committee on Medical Affairs.