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South Carolina Senate Debates Medical Marijuana Bill

South Carolina Senate Debates Medical Marijuana Bill

At the end of January 2022, the South Carolina Senate started to debate the “South Carolina Compassionate Care Act” (S. 150 and H. 3361), which has gained bipartisan support since the bill was introduced just over a year ago. 

Although lawmakers have not voted on the bill, proponents of the legislation believe that they have enough votes to pass the Senate. If that is the case, the bill will be sent to the House for further debate, amendment, and a potential vote. 

If the bill passes, South Carolina residents would be allowed to possess up to two ounces of non-smokable cannabis for a “debilitating medical condition,” so long as they are approved by a qualifying doctor. Common examples of debilitating medical conditions include cancer, terminal illness, multiple sclerosis, neurological disorders, and conditions that have been treated with opioids. 

Under the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, the state will regulate medical marijuana. Patients must obtain a “written certification” from a certifying physician, while the physician must provide a “written treatment plan” that explains the possible risks of marijuana use and other orders. 

As of now, simple marijuana possession of up to one ounce is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 30 days and/or a maximum fine of $200. A second or subsequent offense is also a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

However, if a person is caught with more than one ounce and up to 10 pounds of cannabis, the police may think he/she is planning to do more than smoke or consume it himself/herself. Possession with intent to distribute is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and/or a maximum fine of $5,000. 

During the Senate debates, lawmakers adopted an amendment by the Committee of Medical Affairs. The amendment addresses the percentages of the revenue allocations from the legal sales of medical cannabis. The revenues would be allocated towards drug safety educational programs, research to improve detection of drugged drivers, as well as research and development of medical cannabis.  

The amendment also included the following other changes to the bill: 

  • Aside from written certifications and consultations, insurers are not liable for or reimburse a claim for medical cannabis use 

  • Legal medical marijuana certifications from other states are permitted in South Carolina 

  • There must be a state-licensed and certified pharmacist, clinical nurse, or physician assistant in each dispensary 

Medical marijuana is legalized in 36 states and Washington D.C. 

If you have been arrested for marijuana charge in Lexington or Columbia, SC, call the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC at (803) 359-3301 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Serving clients facing criminal charges since 2004! 


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