A bill which would allow South Carolina doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to certain patients has reached the state House floor.
The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee last week advanced the measure known as the “S.C. Compassionate Care Act” in a 14-3 vote. The bill would allow doctors to prescribe the drug to help treat complications from cancer, HIV, PTSD, Parkinson’s and other pain or nausea-causing illnesses.
The measure is extremely unlikely to pass this year, given there are only two weeks left in the regular session. However supporters are testing the waters for 2019. A similar bill advanced to the Senate floor earlier this year.
“Prior to Prohibition, marijuana was completely legal,” State Rep. Kate Arrington, R-Summerville, said. “Now, if we could get Congress and the FDA to move on, to provide relief and help people with opioid addiction, terminal illness and children with epilepsy, we have something.”
But some on the committee were skeptical of the bill’s motives. “This bill is just another step to bring us closer to the legalization of marijuana,” State Rep. Bruce Bryant, R-Rock Hill, said.
The bill would not allow a patient or caregiver to buy more than two ounces from a licensed dispensary every two weeks.
The committee, which is unique among House panels in that it is controlled by Democrats instead of the majority GOP, shot down an effort to include language friendlier to law enforcement critics. State Rep. Jonathan Hill, R-Townville, sought to include an amendment which would require 18-35 year-olds obtain at least two signatures and prevent dispensary owners from having a prior drug conviction, among other changes.
State Rep. Rosalyn Henderson-Myers, D-Greenville, supported the bill. She said she has been prescribed medical marijuana herself during cancer treatments. “I had it in pill form. My oncologist prescribed it for me,” she said. “I had severe nausea. There were times I could not get out of bed for three, four days at a time. I was bedridden.”
Legislators recently changed state law to allow for CBD oil as a treatment for certain child epilepsy patients. CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant, but does not contain the chemical which gives marijuana users the sensation of being “high.”