Legislators discuss medical marijuana in SC

Published: Sep. 3, 2014 at 11:34 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – South Carolina still has a lot to do before implementing a law allowing residents to use oil derived from marijuana for medicinal purposes.

A legislative committee created to guide the General Assembly through the medical marijuana issue met for the first time Wednesday. The panel was created after the state passed a law this year allowing residents suffering from severe epilepsy to use cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, to control seizures if approved by a doctor.

The State Law Enforcement Division says it is still illegal to grow marijuana or hemp for any reason in South Carolina, including to extract the oil. Federal law prohibits sending the oil across state lines.

"I think that's the safe way to make sure the drug is being explored, and the patients remain safe," said Dr. Tim Pearce with the South Carolina Medical Association.

Janel Ralph also addressed the committee Wednesday as her daughter Harmony, sat in the audience. Harmony has violent, potentially life-threatening seizures.

"I'm more encouraged than any other discussions going on in any other states, which gives me hope," Ralph said. "On a good day, she might have five, and at the end of each one she might have trouble breathing."

Cannabidoil, or CBD, could help, experts say.

But even though CBD is legal in South Carolina, you can't get it here, because cannabis, growing, distributing, or taking it across state lines, is still against the law.

"I am not a proponent of recreational use and I am not a proponent of smoking marijuana," Ralph said.

But SLED officials are concerned growing marijuana or hemp, even for CBD, which doesn't have the chemical which causes a high, could give people looking for a high an outlet to break the law.

"We have a number of questions that need to be answered," said Clint Leach with the Department of Agriculture.

And until the committee finds the right way to regulate it, CBD is legal but there's no way to obtain it.

The Medical Marijuana Study Committee will have three more meetings before it reports findings to the legislature.

One will be in the Upstate, one in the Pee Dee, and one in the Lowcountry.

Senator Tom Davis said everyone in the state should have a chance to voice their opinion.

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