South Carolina House budgetwriters are proposing to launch a prison pilot project that would treat some inmates with an oil derived from the same plant as marijuana, although the state’s prisons agency does not want the program.
Included among dozens of budget amendments approved by the House Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday was a proposal to offer cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a form of experimental therapeutic treatment for volunteer inmates. The oil, which lacks the chemical to make a person “high,” was recently approved by lawmakers for use in children suffering certain forms of severe seizures.
“This would give us the ability to do two things: see if we achieve a cost savings on psychosomatic drugs, which are extremely expensive… and to have our own controlled study,” lead sponsor State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, said.
Pitts said the program would be voluntary for inmates. He said the agency would be tasked with drafting the size and scope of the study.
But prison officials do not want the program. “The Department of Corrections did not ask for and is not in favor of this proviso in the budget,” agency spokesman Jeff Taillon said in an email.
Pitts said the hope is that CBD oil would be less expensive than drugs currently used. He emphasized the idea is still in its early stages. “This particular amendment is in the infancy,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting. “So I think it probably will change as time goes on.”
The amendment was approved in a unanimous Ways and Means Committee voice vote. It will likely be included in the budget proposal that goes before the full House next month.