Narrow medical marijuana approval possible in S.C.

05/07/2014 11:42 AM

05/07/2014 11:44 AM

While a broad medical marijuana bill withered and died in the state legislature this session, bills allowing a more specific use of a medical marijuana extract to treat forms of epilepsy have a chance for passage.

A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee on Wednesday moved forward with a bill, H.4803, that would allow the use of cannabidiol oil, or CBD, in clinical trials. The Senate already has passed a similar, but more restrictive, bill S.1035.

The House bill allows any physician in the state who is participating in a clinical trial to provide the CBD to a patient with any form of refractory epilepsy. The Senate bill allowed only for the use in clinical trials based at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Sen. Brad Hutton, D-Orangeburg, said he preferred the House version because it allows easier access to what could be a life-changing drug to his rural constituents. The rest of the panel agreed to the House wording and moved the bill along to full committee.

CBD is an extract of marijuana that has medicinal value but doesn’t cause a psychoactive high. One study of 19 children with epilepsy found taking a CBD-based drug reduced their numbers of seizures. For eight of the children, the reduction was greater than 80 percent, and two of the children were completely free of seizures while taking the drug.

Several states already have passed regulations allowing CBD-based drug use. Its use to treat children with epilepsy make it a topic that bridges the gap between conservatives and liberals. The two S.C. bills were introduced by Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Jenny Horne, both Republicans.

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