Statements below from the lead Senate and House bill sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, and SC Compassion President Jill Swing, whose 9-year-old daughter would benefit from medical cannabis
* Additional patients are available for interviews in cities across South Carolina *
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A bipartisan group of state lawmakers are introducing comprehensive medical cannabis legislation Tuesday in both chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly. The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act will allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it.
“This legislation will establish a comprehensive and tightly regulated medical cannabis program,” said Sen. Tom Davis, (R-Beaufort), the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate. “It will ensure seriously ill patients are able to access this medicine safely and legally if their doctors believe it will help them. South Carolinians suffering from debilitating conditions deserve the same chance at relief as the roughly 200 million Americans living in states that have adopted similar laws.”
Under the proposed law, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) would license and regulate a limited number of qualified medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, independent testing laboratories, and dispensaries. It would issue registration cards to patients with qualifying medical conditions who have received written recommendations from their physicians, allowing them to purchase a limited amount of medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary. Similar laws have been adopted in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
“This legislation is about helping people who are in need, who are suffering, and who are in pain,” said Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston), the bill’s lead sponsor in the House. “There are so many circumstances in which medical marijuana can provide substantial help to families and friends in South Carolina. I’m hopeful that with the filing of this bill we can raise awareness and move the ball forward when it comes to treating South Carolina citizens with epilepsy, PTSD, cancer, and many other debilitating conditions.”
In 2014, South Carolina adopted a law that allows patients with severe forms of epilepsy to use preparations of cannabis that contain high levels of CBD and very low levels of THC. It does not cover a variety of other debilitating conditions for which medical cannabis can be efficacious, and it does not provide for a regulated supply of CBD products. Some epilepsy patients also report that a greater ratio of THC to CBD is necessary for it to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures.
“My daughter has run out of traditional treatment options and medical cannabis could help her,” said SC Compassion President Jill Swing of Charleston, whose 9-year-old daughter, Mary Louise, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “She has experienced some benefits from CBD oil, but whole-plant treatments are far more effective at controlling her seizures. This legislation would truly improve her quality of life.”
More than three out of four South Carolina residents (78%) think cannabis should be made legal for medical use, according to a September 2016 Winthrop Poll commissioned by The State newspaper. Only about one in six South Carolinians (16%) think it should remain illegal.
“We are tired of seeing loved ones suffer, families torn apart, and lives destroyed by our state’s current cannabis policy,” Swing said. “Seriously ill South Carolinians should not have to break the law or move to another state to access this medically beneficial and often life-saving plant. We are thankful that compassionate lawmakers have heard our pleas for help and responded with this commonsense legislation.”
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SC Compassion is a statewide coalition of patients, families, and advocates working to establish a comprehensive medical cannabis program in South Carolina. For more information, visit https://SCCompassion.com.