Updated on November 19, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
South Carolina is one of the few states that does not currently have a medical cannabis program. The use of clinical-grade CBD has been approved for children with epilepsy. The use of cannabidiol (CBD) was only approved on June 2, 2014, when the South Carolina Senate passed S 1035 or “Julian’s Law.” Only patients with the most severe forms of epilepsy can be provided with clinical-grade CBD.
Medical cannabis remains illegal in the state. The cannabidiol provided for patients that qualify must be 0.90% THC or lower in potency. After agricultural restrictions were lifted in South Carolina in 2018, more than one hundred farms grew hemp. However, smokable hemp remains illegal in South Carolina.
Benchmark Research conducted a poll to determine whether South Carolina residents supported the legalization of cannabis. The survey found that 72% of residents in SC were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. South Carolina residents do not, however, support adult-use or recreational legalization. In the Benchmark Research survey, only 23% of respondents said they would vote for adult use.
There was some encouraging movement in the South Carolina legislature during 2021. Some representatives and leaders have indicated that medical cannabis laws may be passed in early 2022.
Senator Tom Davis has filed the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. The legislation was provided to the House of Representatives at the end of 2020. The proposed medical cannabis legislation had passed the Senate Medical Affairs Committee by March 2021, but it was still being held by May. Specifically by one Senator, who felt more time was needed to review the laws.
The South Carolina Senate is scheduled to review the Committee-approved legislation in January 2022. Senator Tom Davis has called the proposed medical cannabis program one of the most restrictive and conservative in the United States.
Currently, only approved patients with one of three diagnosed health conditions can get approval for clinical-grade CBD of less than 0.90% THC potency. Patients must be diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, or another form of severe epilepsy.
No type of medical cannabis is currently legalized in South Carolina. While cannabidiol (CBD) oil is available by prescription for some patients, even smokable hemp is prohibited. And in 2019, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office stated that providing raw hemp to consumers for any purpose was also illegal.
Medical cannabis is not legalized in South Carolina, and it is not possible for patients to register for a medical card. However, in other states, the minimum age requirement is eighteen (18) years.
It is not known if or when South Carolina will legalize medical cannabis. However, in most states, the patient is required to register online with the medical cannabis program and create their own profile. The patient portal becomes the place where annual medical card renewals and payments are processed in most states.
Right now, medical cannabis is not legalized in South Carolina. However, if the state adopts legalization in 2022, minors or children with debilitating health conditions may be permitted to register. But only with a designated legal guardian or caregiver, as is the requirement in other states.
After medical cannabis legalization in South Carolina, caregivers will have to pass a number of checks before they can provide assistance to a minor.
Other states require that caregivers be over the age of 21 years, without a prior drug-related criminal record, and the minor’s legal guardian. Some states also require that the caregiver must reside with the patient as well.
Many states require that medical cannabis cards be renewed on an annual basis. This includes having a physician complete a health check and provide certification or referral to the MMJ program. And it also requires an annual renewal fee payable to the state medical cannabis authority.
All states with a medical cannabis program allow patients to request a new card. This is usually done online, but sometimes, appearing in person at a Department of Health (DOH) office. There is also a fee ranging from $10 to $25 for card replacement in some states.
Medical marijuana is not currently available in South Carolina. The purchase of smokable and raw hemp is also illegal. Simple possession (unrelated to violent crime or weapons use and for small quantities of cannabis) carries a misdemeanor charge.
First-time offenders can spend more than thirty (30) days in jail and pay a fine of up to $200. Those charged with possession of personal-use amounts of cannabis can complete a pretrial drug education and intervention program to reduce the penalties.
Medical cannabis is not currently legal in South Carolina. But the legislation will be reviewed by the Senate in January 2022 and may progress at that time.
There have been many attempts to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina and provide a compassionate care program for patients. However, the proposed legislation has failed to gather support in the South Carolina Senate.
April 2015—The Medical Marijuana Program Act (H 407) and (S 672) were introduced. However, the proposed legislation did not move through the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. A revision of the legislation amended and renamed the Compassionate Care Act was introduced again in 2017 and failed to gain support in the Senate.
Source Web 2021: scstatehouse.gov
January 2019—A new and improved Compassionate Care Act was introduced ( H 3660) and (S 366) in South Carolina. The legislation greatly expanded the qualifying health conditions. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee kept some of the legislation but applied it only to cannabidiol (CBD) of 0.90% THC potency. It did not pass as it failed to be passed to the House of Representatives by April 2019.
Source Web 2021: scstatehouse.gov
Debilitating diseases or medical conditions that produce multiple sclerosis, persistent muscle spasms, neurological disorders, seizures, severe nausea, severe debilitating pain as well as wasting syndrome (cachexia) may also be treated with medical marijuana.
According to a section of the proposed act, if a patient has a statement from a doctor stating they have a qualifying medical condition, a valid registry ID card from another state permits the patient to possess medical marijuana in South Carolina. This means that if the bill is passed, people from other states may be allowed to use their medical marijuana cards in South Carolina.