A South Carolina House committee plans to hold a public hearing April 4 on legislation to legalize medical cannabis.
A small group of House members made changes to the bill March 31, according to the Associated Press, and more discussion is expected next week at the full Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee hearing.
S. 150, titled the SC Compassionate Care Act, is sponsored by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, who has been advocating for medical cannabis policy reform in South Carolina for years.
The legislation outlines 13 qualifying conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic medical conditions causing serious muscle spasms, and any chronic or debilitating condition for which an opioid is prescribed.
The SC Compassionate Care Act would allow qualified patients to access a two-week supply of medical cannabis in the form of oils, vaporizers, salves, topicals and patches, and the bill calls for a 6% sales tax on these products.
The South Carolina Senate passed the bill Feb. 9 in a 28-15 vote, and a small group of lawmakers from the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved a few changes to the legislation Thursday, including an amendment to clean up the grammar and fix typos in the bill text, AP reported.
A second amendment would allow podiatrists with additional training to recommend medical cannabis to their patients, according to the news outlet.
A more in-depth discussion on the bill is expected at the April 4 hearing with the full House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, AP reported.
The committee, better known as the 3M Committee, is the only one with a Democratic majority, according to a WCSC report, and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, told the news outlet that he is optimistic about its passage.
“I think the potential is very strong,” he said. “The support on the 3M Committee seems to be strong; the support in the House seems to be strong.”
Committee members will hear testimony at Monday’s hearing and will then convene later next week to further consider the bill and take up any additional amendments, WCSC reported. The committee could vote on whether to send the SC Compassionate Care Act to the House floor for debate by the end of next week.
South Carolina’s legislative session wraps up in May, at which time any pending legislation must pass the full Legislature and be signed by Gov. Henry McMaster to become law. McMaster has not indicated whether he plans to sign the medical cannabis bill should it pass the House, according to WCSC.