south carolina

Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Forward in South Carolina


After action by a legislative committee, the medical marijuana bill moves forward in South Carolina. Members of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs (3M) Committee voted 14-3 to send the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act to the full House for consideration. The bill would allow seriously ill patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana to treat their conditions.

Janel Ralph is the executive director of the advocacy group Compassionate South Carolina. Her eight-year-old daughter has a rare seizure disorder. She said the that the committee’s vote is a step in the right direction.

“The diligent work of patients, advocates, and supportive lawmakers is paying off, and South Carolinians are closer to finding relief with medical cannabis than ever before,” Ralph said.

“This issue needs to stay at the forefront of the legislature’s attention, and we will continue working to educate them about the need for a compassionate medical cannabis program in our state. Patients will continue to suffer until this bill is passed and implemented.”

“We commend lawmakers for allowing the Compassionate Care Act to progress this far, and urge them not to delay taking it up when the next legislative session begins,” she added.

Democrat Leon Howard represents Columbia in the House and is the chair of the 3M committee. He told local media that the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act would be a positive measure for the state.

“I believe we did the right thing by approving this bill,” Howard said. “Our intent is to help the thousands of patients who can benefit from this medical treatment, including retired military personnel and children who suffer from debilitating illnesses.”

But, he said, those patients will probably have to continue to wait.


“I want supporters of the bill to understand that it is highly unlikely that this bill or any other medical cannabis bill becomes law during this legislative session. That makes it all the more important to contact your elected officials and urging them to support this bill.”

Senate Passed Version Last Month

The Senate Medical Affairs Committee passed a similar measure in March by a vote of 8-6. Under the proposals, patients with “debilitating” conditions would be allowed to use medical marijuana and cannabis products.

The law defines an “allowable amount of medical cannabis” as up to two ounces. The law makes patients with cancer, HIV, PTSD and conditions causing severe pain, nausea or seizures eligible to use medical marijuana. They would have to receive a card from the Department of Health and Environmental Control in order to participate.

A 2014 law allows South Carolina epilepsy patients limited access to medicinal cannabis. But they can use only CBD, and only in approved clinical trials.

Final Hit: Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Forward in South Carolina

Legislative procedures will prevent the Compassionate Care Act from being made law this session because a key deadline has already passed. But activists believe the committee votes in the House and Senate will lead to passage of the bill next year.

A 2016 poll by Winthrop found that 78 percent of South Carolinians support legalizing medical marijuana.

Legal Medical Marijuana In South Carolina Is Closer Than Ever


In major medical cannabis news out of South Carolina, a bill that would legalize the drug for seriously ill patients made it out of committee on Thursday and will soon be under consideration in the full Senate. Now that it’s possible for the bill to get a floor vote in both chambers before the end of the current session, legal medical marijuana in South Carolina is closer than ever.

South Carolina’s Compassionate Care Act Clears Committee

On Thursday, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee voted to approve S 212, a bill that would grant qualifying patients access to medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation.

Next up, the bill will face consideration before the full Senate. It will very likely come to a floor vote before the current legislative session’s April 10 deadline.

S 212 would task the Department of Health and Environmental Control with regulating and licensing cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing labs. Additionally, the department would establish a patient and caregiver registry and distribute registration cards to those enrolled.

The Compassionate Care Act, however, prohibits patients from smoking medical cannabis. For patients, the herbaceous form of cannabis is the most cost-effective, but dosing can be more challenging. Healthcare professionals also view smoke inhalation as a health hazard.


Law Enforcement Lobbying Hobbles South Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Bill

Other restrictions in S 212 would make South Carolina’s one of the most carefully regulated medical cannabis programs in the country. Those restrictions are the result of lobbying efforts by some in law enforcement.

As a result, legislators introduced several additional safeguards and amendments to address law enforcement concerns. And that has upset many supporters of the bill. They feel lawmakers are caving to pressure from police and ignoring testimony from prominent medical professionals.

Other law enforcement officials, however, have spoken out in favor of S 212. Jeff Moore, former executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said: “it is presumptuous, irresponsible, and arrogant for law enforcement officials to take it upon themselves to determine what medical resources should be available for the citizens of South Carolina who are suffering and in need of relief.”

Indeed, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel has made repeated statements claiming marijuana has no medical value. He also vowed not to support any legislation that went against the federal ban on cannabis.

The bill’s supporters, like Moore, have criticized Keel for “hiding behind dubious federal policy.”


Moore’s son, a combat veteran, uses medical cannabis to treat his PTSD. He lives in Michigan, one of the 29 states, along with D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, with legal medical cannabis.

So while medical marijuana in South Carolina is closer than ever before, advocates will likely have to continue to struggle to expand access for ill patients.

State representatives who support the bill have broad public support. According to a September 2016 poll, 78 percent of South Carolina residents approve legalizing medical cannabis.

The Final Hit: Legal Medical Marijuana In South Carolina Is Closer Than Ever

Despite the Compassionate Care Act’s progress, there’s still a chance the bill won’t make it out of the legislature this session.

The Senate is moving forward.

But the House has so far declined to hear its own version of the medical cannabis bill. And that could mean it stalls on S 212. The deadline for S 212 to advance is April 10.