Medical marijuana bill unveiled in South Carolina Legislature

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A bill expanding the use of medical marijuana has just been introduced in South Carolina, and on Tuesday supporters talked about why they are behind what's being called the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act.

In 2014, South Carolina lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a bill allowing cannabis oil for medical use, but lawmakers didn't realize interstate commerce laws wouldn't let people bring it into the state.  Use was very limited, and many turned to black market suppliers to find the product.

Leslie Jurado, of Rock Hill, has found the 2014 law frustrating, to say the least. Her daughter, Isabel, 14, suffers from a rare genetic condition, called Sanfilippo syndrome, which strikes one in 70,000  people.

Isabel or Izzy, once could walk and talk, but her nervous system is being destroyed.  She's had hundreds of seizures.

"It’s a completely helpless feeling," Jurado said.

She first noticed a seizure when Izzy was 4. It lasted 30 full minutes and terrified her.

"If you'd never seen a seizure in your life, you'd know that was a seizure. It was that obvious," she said.

Izzy's condition is terminal. Most people with her illness don't live to adulthood. Jurado said it's like watching your child go through autism, Alzheimer's disease and cerebral palsy all together.

"In the midst of this, you watch your child lose all abilities, and go through dementia, confusion," she said.

What helps Izzy is a small dose of cannabidiol, or CBD, from a marijuana plant, taken twice a day. The CBD is produced in South Carolina and has been legal since 2014.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Columbia on Tuesday touted a new bill that would allow CBD oil, and some containing THC, to be grown, sold and used in the state, effectively expanding the use of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana in the state.

State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, of Lancaster, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the epidemic of addiction to painkillers makes medical marijuana an option to look at.

"When people have pain that won't go away, if we put them on hydrocodone, oxycodone, or OxyContin, we are sending them on a path to opioid addiction," Powers Norrell said.

The bill was pre-filed and could get a full hearing soon. Powers Norrell said it has wide support.

"The people who spoke today at the press conference could not be farther apart politically on just about every other issue that comes before the Legislature, and yet we're coming together on this one," she said.

Powers Norrell opposes legalizing recreational marijuana, and said this bill would not open the door to that.

Channel 9 reached out to several lawmakers Tuesday, trying to talk to someone who may be opposed to the bill. None were reached.

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