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The future of medical marijuana in South Carolina

As attitudes toward marijuana use have changed in the United States in recent years, many in South Carolina are now considering the future of medical marijuana in the state.

Although most South Carolinians are likely unaware, medical marijuana was actually legalized in the state in the 1980s. At the time, the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act was passed, allowing marijuana to be distributed to treat specific illnesses.

Despite the law, the people of South Carolina are still unable to use marijuana for medical reasons, as the law also states that marijuana may only be obtained in accordance with federal law. As marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, it has not been possible for those who could benefit from medical marijuana to use the substance in South Carolina.

South Carolina legislator proposes medical cannabis bill

Recently, Senator Tom Davis introduced legislation that would allow for the use of a certain type of cannabis.

The bill would allow physicians to prescribe cannabis oil, a substance that provides the medical benefits of marijuana without producing a high in the patient. Cannabis oil does not produce a high because most of the THC is removed. The oil is composed primarily of the other ingredient found in marijuana, CBD. THC is the component in marijuana that produces a high, while CBD is the substance that has medicinal properties.

The oil is also referred to as “Charlotte’s Web,” and is often used to treat children who have been diagnosed with epilepsy.

Fight marijuana charges in South Carolina

Currently, under South Carolina law, individuals may be penalized for possessing even very small quantities of marijuana. The penalties for marijuana possession vary depending on whether the person charged has previous convictions.

Upon a first offense of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, an individual may be fined up to $200 and may be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail. Upon further convictions for marijuana possession, an individual could be fined up to $1,000 and be sent to jail for up to one year.

The penalties are much more severe for those charged with selling or trafficking marijuana in South Carolina. For instance, those charged with selling or trafficking less than 10 pounds of the substance can face felony charges. A conviction can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you have been charged with a marijuana crime in South Carolina, you ought to take steps to protect yourself. In such cases, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is a wise step to ensure a robust defense is established on your behalf.

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SC Marijuana Qualification

Updated on June 15, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Qualifications

Who Qualifies for Medicinal Marijuana in South Carolina

* Please note: South Carolina is still pending legislative vote, however, the state has outlined several key factors for the medical marijuana program in South Carolina but it has not been legally enacted as of this time.

The 2017 legislative session in South Carolina ended without a vote on the pending medical marijuana bills. South Carolina Bill 3521, the Compassionate Care Act, gained supporters in the legislature but did not come up for a vote. There is optimism that the beginning of the 2018 session could see progress on this legislation to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

An attempt to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina failed in the South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 22nd despite South Carolina State law already allowing it. Representative Todd Rutherford, a Democrat out of Columbia, tried to amend a bill dealing with controlled substances to add marijuana to the list of drugs that doctors could recommend. Todd Rutherford said his plan was to license farmers in the state to grow marijuana and then sell it to patients, like other prescription drugs, eliminating that cost to the state. However, even though the bill failed, there was a bill that was passed in 1980 known as Section 44-53-650.

Under South Carolina law, Section 44-53-650 is a bill that was passed which allows the director to obtain and distribute marijuana. The director shall obtain marijuana through whatever means he deems most appropriate consistent with federal law. The director shall cause such analyzed marijuana to be transferred to various locations throughout the State that provide adequate security as set forth in federal and state regulations for the purpose of distributing such marijuana to the certified patient in such manner as is consistent with federal law. The patient shall not be required to pay for such marijuana but the director may charge for ancillary medical services provided by the department to compensate the department for the cost, if any, of securing such marijuana and providing it to the patient.

The term “director” refers to the director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The D.H.E.C. has never obtained and distributed marijuana, though, for two reasons: Firstly, the clause in the state law that says “consistent with federal law” creates confusion. If federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, which would make distribution of it a federal offense and that would be highly illegal. Therefore, it is already legal but that is a mere technicality and does not provide any exemption from criminal prosecution whatsoever.

How to Become a Medical Marijuana Patient in South Carolina

  1. For patients looking to qualify for medical marijuana in the state of South Carolina, you first must be a resident of the state who can provide proof of residency via a valid South Carolina identification card.
  2. Patients must also be readily able to obtain a copy of their medical records, indicating that in their past medical history they have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition that has been outlined by the state of South Carolina. Inquire with us to learn how to request your medical records.
  3. Patients must obtain a form of written documentation from a medical practitioner who is licensed in the state of South Carolina, solidifying that patients are qualified and will find relief from cannabis. Be sure to bring your medical records with you to your appointment.
  4. You must apply for and receive a medical marijuana card from the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina Qualifying Marijuana Patient Conditions

The patient must have a seriously debilitating condition; a condition which shall be specified in the patient’s healthcare record and can be easily reviewed by a cannabis-recommending physician within a respective area. The Compassionate Care Act, when passed, will provide treatment guidelines by specifying a list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be used.

The patient is under a licensed medical practitioner’s care for the previously determined serious condition; and in the practitioner’s professional opinion, the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the primary or adjunctive treatment with medical use of cannabis for the serious condition.

Learn more about qualifying for medical marijuana in South Carolina. Get info on qualifying conditions and find local doctors at Marijuana Doctors.