Thousands of lives could change forever if SC lawmakers approve a medical marijuana bill

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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock

Image: MGN Graphics

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Marijuana can be a polarizing topic. Just Tuesday, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson called it "the most dangerous drug."

But that's not stopping South Carolina lawmakers from working on a bill allowing it for people with serious medical conditions.

It will help people like 11-year-old Mary Louise, who's been dealing with seizures since she was 2 years old. Her family have been pushing for medical marijuana ever since.

Mary Snyder, Mary Louise's grandmother, says everything changed when her granddaughter was diagnosed.

"Started on the whole gamut of pharmaceutical medications that didn't really stop her seizures," Snyder said. "But they did stop her development."

There's no cure, but Mary Louise's family took her to Maine two years ago to try medical marijuana. Snyder says it made all the difference.

"She came back like a different child," Snyder said.

Snyder says her grandmother never used to smile as wide as she does now.

"It's not just our little epileptic girl that we're talking about, we're talking about a lot of people that have serious medical conditions that could be relieved by the medical marijuana," Snyder said.

If the South Carolina bill passes, DHEC will license 15 centers to grow the drug and 30 facilities to make it legal in the Palmetto State.

"It will be a clean product," Snyder said. "It can't have any molds, any insecticides, it's gotta be grown under special conditions."

DHEC would also license 5 labs to test cannabis products to ensure correct labeling. Snyder says some lawmakers are misinformed.

"They were talking like it was a recreational thing, or that there's meant to be pot shops on every corner," Snyder said.

Regulations are in place to ensure the best patient access. Every county would have at least one dispensary.

Those dispensaries would be treated like any other business. They can't sell the drug at a pharmacy. It has to be its own free-standing business.

Getting licensed will be a two-step process.

If the bill becomes law, it will take at least 18 months for all this to happen and for patients to get the medicine they need.