The South Carolina Legislature passed, and Gov. Nikki Haley signed, a bill that will exempt a limited class of individuals with certain medical disorders from criminal penalties for using and possessing cannabidiol or any “manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation” of marijuana that contains 0.9% or less THC and more than 15% CBD.

The new law also creates a statewide program to conduct clinical trials on the effectiveness of cannabidiol for severe epilepsy. However, these trials will only begin if and when the FDA approves them.

What type of marijuana does the law apply to? The law exempts cannabidiol or any “manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation” of marijuana that contains 0.9% or less THC and more than 15% CBD from the definition of marijuana if a person has a certification from his or her doctor that he or she has a severe form of epilepsy that has not responded to traditional therapies. The law protects this limited class of patients and their parents/guardians or caretakers for the possession, use, and arguable manufacture and sale of marijuana that meets the cannabinoid content restrictions.

Who qualifies for this limited program? Patients diagnosed with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, or “any other severe form of epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies” if the patient’s physician concludes that the patient can benefit from medical cannabidiol use.

Can minors with seizure disorders use low-THC medical marijuana under this law? Yes.

Do qualifying patients need to obtain an ID card? No, there is not an ID card requirement.

Are there restrictions on who will manufacture the low-THC cannabis? The law is silent on who will produce the cannabidiol it allows certain patients to use. However, if the FDA approves an investigational new drug trial in South Carolina to look at cannabidiol, participating physicians and patients would only be able to use substances that have been approved by the FDA.

Can qualified patients grow their own non-psychoactive strains of marijuana for purposes of obtaining cannabidiol? Arguably, yes! The law exempts from the definition of “marijuana” in the state’s controlled substances act cannabidiol or any “manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of any plant of the genus cannabis” if it contains 0.9% or less THC and more than 15% of CBD. The question of whether the plant itself could be considered a “manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation” of itself is unclear, however, and would need to be considered as such and meet the cannabinoid content requirements in order to make a good faith claim that a patient was acting within the law of South Carolina.

When did this law take effect? It became effective when Gov. Haley signed the bill on June 2, 2014.