News 12 NBC 26 / Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- An Aiken mother is begging lawmakers to take a walk in her shoes as they decide how to vote on a new medical marijuana bill.
Quan Williams has a 12 year old son with severe epilepsy and says the only thing that's helped him is cannabis oil. She says the key to passing this bill is making it personal.
Williams will stop at nothing to get help for her son.
"There are 28 states now that have the law for patient access. We need that. We really need that," Williams said to her son as they researched on their phone.
Her son Cameron, 12, was diagnosed with severe epilepsy when he was four months old. He suffers from five different kinds of debilitating seizures and has tried over 100 anticonvulsant medications that only seem to help on the short term.
"It's one of the hardest things I've ever been through," Quan said. "At one point Cameron was having 10-12 seizures a day. Sometimes Cameron would seize for every 45 minutes for seven hours."
Because of that, he's not cleared to go to school or play any sports, anything a typical 12-year-old boy lives for.
"If you put yourself in a 12 or 13-year-old boy's shoes, you'll feel his pain," Quan said.
That was his life until Palmetto Harmony, a cannabis oil they get from Charleston, but even that's not strong enough.
"We just give it to him by mouth. It's an oil. It doesn't taste bad, does it?" she turned to ask her son.
"Yes, it does," Cameron said.
"Oh, it does," Quan corrected before laughing. "Well, anything that's good for you doesn't taste good most of the time."
Despite the bad taste, Quan says the harder thing to swallow is watching her son suffer and know she can't get what he really needs. So, she's backing the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, a bill that would allow making and using cannabis oil for certain conditions.
Cameron will tell you himself the difference it makes.
"I always feel not 100 percent, but when I have the harmony, then I did feel better than I was feeling," he said.
Even that simple statement brought his mother to tears.
"It makes me so emotional. I'm trying not to cut him off, but to hear him speak, like, this is a big deal! Because he does not speak in public about his epilepsy at all," Quan said as she wiped away tears.
When it comes to opposition, Quan says she wants to be clear she's not advocating recreational use.
"Let me tell you, I would never go on the street or to just anybody or to request or buy. First of all, I don't even know how to start that!" she said. "I would never buy any of this dirty crap that is on the streets. And excuse my term, but it's dirty and that's not what we want. We want to make sure that it's supervised. We want to make sure that it's grown naturally. We don't want any chemicals mixed in. We want the best stuff for him because this is for his health."
South Carolina's bill would also make it so all registered patients in Georgia can also buy from licensed dispensaries in South Carolina. The trick there is that it would still be against federal law to cross state lines with it, so according to the law, you'd have to use it in South Carolina before crossing back into Georgia.
The bill was introduced on January 10th and sent to the Committee on Medical Affairs the same day.
We reached out to some of our local representatives to get their take on it. Aiken's Sen. Tom Young sent us this statement:
"I intend to learn more about the legislation before making any decision on it. I am sure that there will be people both for it and against it and like other bills, I am studying it and talking with constituents before it reaches the Senate floor for consideration."