Special Reports

The Compassionate Care Act would legalize marijuana for medical use

The Compassionate Care Act is being debated in the S.C. General Assembly legalizes marijuana for medical use.

▪ If passed and signed by the Gov. Henry McMaster, marijuana could be purchased but not smoked in leaf form. It can only be used in forms such as vaporized oil, gel caps, suppositories, patches or topical creams. The marijuana would have to be recommended by a doctor in a “bona fide” relationship with a patient with a “debilitating medical condition.” Those qualifying conditions, such as PTSD, epilepsy and glaucoma, are listed in the bill. It could also be recommended to anyone who is presently being prescribed an opiate. Registered patients or caregivers would be able to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana. Patients between 18 and 23 must have certification letters from two doctors. Younger patients would have to have the treatments dispensed by a registered caregiver, such as a parent.

▪ Proceeds from the sale of medical marijuana products would be split between SLED, DHEC, the general fund and medical cannabis research and development. DHEC would administer the program. SLED would monitor it. The program would also be overseen by a Medical Cannabis Advisory Board with representation from SLED, DHEC and eight other members nominated by the governor and approved by the Senate. DHEC would be required to license a minimum of one dispensary in each county and a maximum of one dispensary for every 20 active pharmacy licenses.

▪ The dispensaries would be privately owned and free-standing. DHEC would form a commission to oversee the licensing of those dispensaries. The state would also license five laboratories to test cannabis products to ensure proper labeling.. DHEC would license 15 marijuana cultivation centers and 30 processing facilities. Each dispensary would contract or employ a pharmacist, physician assistant or clinical practical nurse.