2019 SC Compassionate Care

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The first year of this biennial state legislative session ended on Tuesday. The Senate medical affairs full committee held hearings last month with no movement on S366, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. Voting on the bill was postponed until next year when the committee reconvenes and with S366 listed at the top of the calendar. A few committee members had expressed concern they did not feel they had adequate time to read the details of the bill and amendments in order to move the bill this year. The bill will pick up exactly where it left off, giving the members opportunity in the off-season to understand the bill thoroughly. The legislators will be in their home districts, giving patient advocates a local opportunity to meet with them in their home offices or at public events.

The companion bill, H3660, has not shown any movement, likely because the committee it was assigned to currently (3M) had not been given the “go ahead” by Speaker of the House, Rep. Jay Lucas. This bill will pick up next year as well and will begin in 2020 without any of the Senate amendments reflected in the draft. However, there is a likelihood that the House bill will be moved to the Judiciary Committee, where the Senate amendments will be adopted. The House sponsor, Peter McCoy, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and we are hopeful he will be able to move the bill in this committee.

We made strides this year in gaining potential votes in support of the amended S366, which became more conservative as lawmakers heard concerns from law enforcement, medical associations, and regulators. An amendment summary sheet can be found HERE. The most notable changes to the bill include:

Bans Plant Material and Smoking

S. 366 always prohibited smoking. To address concerns, amendments are expected to ban plant material. Also, language would be added to clarify that paraphernalia for smoking, such as bongs, is not allowed. Vaporization is explicitly allowed.

Adds Five-Year Sunset

At the request of a senator, the bill will likely be amended to sunset five years after its effective date. Other state medical cannabis programs have included sunsets, however they have all been renewed.

Adds Severe Autism as a Qualifying Condition

This is a positive development, not a restriction.

New Requirements for Patients Using Cannabis for PTSD

Due to a concern that someone may be able to fake PTSD to get cannabis, patients using cannabis for PTSD must submit documentation showing that they endured trauma to DHEC.

New Requirements for Patients Using Cannabis Instead of Opiates

Due to a concern that severe pain could be faked, physicians who certify patients to use medical cannabis, as opposed to far more dangerous opiates, would have to submit additional documentation.

We are proud and humbled by your action and support. Please don’t be discouraged. We made progress this year. We advanced this issue further, and that is a win for advocates and patients in South Carolina that need this medicine as an alternative treatment. Although several concessions were made in order to garner more votes, the bill is still alive. If the Senate medical affairs committee had voted too soon, it may have all ended without hope until 2021, when a new bill could be introduced. We now have the second year of the session to get the bill passed. The tide has changed, and the most conservative legislators realize that it is not a matter of if, but when we have a medical marijuana law in our state.

Advocating on behalf of South Carolina’s patients happens all year long. CSC.Health is always here to help connect you with your elected officials. This summer, I encourage you to write them a note or give them a call if you are unable to visit them personally. The most convenient and effective communication is a personal appointment and visit to their home (district) offices. If you would feel more comfortable teaming up with other constituents for a visit, CSC can help coordinate as well. Please email us at [email protected]

Can you please send a quick email to help carry medical cannabis across the finish line? Let your legislators know you support our patients’ and our doctors’ right to determine if medical cannabis should be an alternative treatment option. If you believe that it is OUR HEALTH, OUR DECISION, please use this LINK to send them an email. Stay updated via our newsletter, please sign up at the following link: Join CSC mailing list

We appreciate your engagement in this session. CSC patients and caregivers could not have achieved so much without your help. Please continue to contact your legislators and tell them your personal stories about how people you know and love can be relieved of pain and gain a better quality of life. Together, we can get this life-saving medicine to desperate patients in the communities we love!

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1st Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee Meeting on S366

The first senate subcommittee meeting discussing the Compassionate Care Act...

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