South Carolina medical marijuana legalization passes major hurdle

Dry and trimmed cannabis buds, stored in a glass jars. Medical cannabis

South Carolina elected officials have furthered a medical marijuana bill that has been in limbo for more than a year.

The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved Thursday a medical marijuana bill by a 14-3 vote.

The bill now will be sent to the full House for consideration, but not until the 2019 legislative session.

The bill, known as the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with a recommendation from their doctors, according to a description provided by CompassionateSC, a medical cannabis advocacy group.

The House committee's vote comes after a Senate committee passed similar legislation earlier in 2018. Proponents hope this is a good sign that meaningful medical marijuana legislation may pass in South Carolina in the near future.

“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,” said Janel Ralph, executive director of Compassionate South Carolina, whose 8-year-old daughter has a rare seizure disorder. “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."

The S.C. Compassionate Care Act was introduced in 2017 by Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy. It would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it, according to compassionate S.C.

The bill calls on DHEC to regulate and license medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories, CompassionateSC says.

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