Myrtle Beach-area rep Ryhal explains his anti-cannabis vote

For Weekly SurgeApril 16, 2014 

Mike Ryhal. Courtesy photo.

Debate Continues Over Medical Marijuana

In last week’s column, we covered the South Carolina House of Representatives’ vote on H. 4803 (Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Treatment Research Act). Different versions of the bill, designed to start the process towards the therapeutic use of cannabis in patients with debilitating illnesses such as epilepsy, passed easily in both the House (90-24), and the Senate (unanimously). The bill is now in a Senate committee.

Yet, even though the bill sailed through the House, three Myrtle Beach-area representatives – Republicans Alan Clemmons, Mike Ryhal, and Heather Ammons Crawford – voted against its passing. After repeated requests to explain their votes against this important bill that would improve the lives of countless men, women and children in the state, only Ryhal took the time to respond. Ryhal explained that he would have supported the original bill, but an amendment was tacked on that, in his opinion, extended its reach beyond mere research. “As a parent, you‚ you’re going to do whatever it takes for your child,” Ryhal told the Surge, and he was concerned the new language endangered children by making it too easy to source medical cannabis from unknown suppliers outside the state before it is clear what effect CBD has on their cognitive development.

Meanwhile, Democrats added a non-binding referendum (which means it carries no legal force) to their June 10 primary ballot, giving voters an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. Should it pass, it is likely that S.C. Democrats will take up a legally-binding version in the State House next year.

Charleston Playboy T-Rav to Challenge Pink Elephant?

Thomas Ravenel, the Charlestonian famous for his starring role in Bravo TV’s reality series “Southern Charm” (and resigning from State Treasurer after federal drug charges were filed against him in 2007), will likely challenge U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as an independent should Graham win the GOP primary in June. “Should the current Senator, Lindsey Graham be the nominee, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring as an independent candidate,” Ravenel announced last week on Bravo, “because I think the voters need the opportunity to have a choice.”

Voters will have to wait until June to see if Ravenel’s declaration was serious rather than just for TV ratings, but Ravenel’s personal fortune makes his bid for Senate an interesting prospect. Putting aside Ravenel’s personal antics, both former and present, his libertarian-leaning politics make him a good foil to Graham’s fetish for snooping on American citizens. For example, Ravenel endorsed Ron Paul for President in 2012.

It is a bit regretful that a man with solid libertarian credentials like Ravenel will spend the campaign fighting the phantoms of the past rather than articulating sound, pro-Constitution public policy. However, if it came down to a man who once said terrorists would bring nukes into Charleston Harbor, and a man who thinks Americans should have the right to enjoy the smell of cocaine, I would donate $25 to the latter. At the very least, it would force Graham into the uncomfortable position of having to act like he understands basic civil liberties.

NSA Spying Saga Nets U.K. Newsie a Pulitzer

If in the last few months you have grown suspicious of the Obama Administration’s illegal spying on American citizens, you largely have Glenn Greenwald and a handful of other journalists to thank. Greenwald, along with other journalists from The Guardian (U.K.) and The Washington Post were honored this week with the Pulitzer Prize – journalism’s most prestigious award. The award was given for their work in exposing the National Security Agency’s illegal domestic spying programs based upon classified intelligence leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden. Without a doubt, the work of Greenwald and others provided irrefutable proof of the Obama administration’s corrupt domestic surveillance practices that had long been suspected by civil liberties watchdogs. Because of their courageous work (try taking on one of the most powerful and secretive government agencies in U.S. history), personal freedom is a little more secure for all Americans. Thank you, Glenn Greenwald. You are a hero to us all, in the true sense of the word.

Andrew Davis is a Myrtle Beach native and former Director of Communications for the national Libertarian Party. Contact him at SCPundit@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @SCPundit.

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