COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)– Local advocacy groups in favor of medical marijuana along with state legislators and medical professional help an educational seminar to fill the public in on the benefits the drug can offer chronically ill patients.
The Compassionate Care Act was introduced during last session and would allow the use of the drug for patients with certain medical disorders like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
There are 29 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Supporters in South Carolina are hoping the state is the next to join the list. Both researchers and advocacy groups are working towards its passage.
Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, the Vice President of Research at the University of South Carolina, has been studying the effects of marijuana on medical disorders for the past 17 years. He says the bill is necessary in helping some patients lead normal lives. “When a child is going through hundreds of seizures a day and there is no treatment available.. or there is a terminal cancer like a brain tumor that’s going to kill that individual in a few weeks..we should have the ability to prescribe that patient with marijuana cannabinoids,” said Dr. Nagarkatti.
Our immune cells produce receptors similar to the chemicals found in the marijuana plant and when the chemicals bind, it’s believed to help suppress symptoms of diseases like cancer. The legislative liaison for one of the advocacy groups went into a little more detail about qualifying diseases. “Everything from epilepsy, to multiple sclerosis, autism, diseases like cancer, any debilitating disorder where medical research has shown that medical cannabis would be something to help for, ” said David Newsom.
If the bill passes and its current language will allow for 15 licenses for growers to grow marijuana in South Carolina. “The grower grows it, send it to the processor, the processor manufactures it into a product that is consumable by the patient. and there’s many different products, you talk about capsules, oils, lotions, and many different delivery methods,” explained Newsom.
If the bill passes the next challenge is figuring out how to address the cost. Because marijuana is a Schedule I illegal drug on the federal level, it is ineligible for health insurance coverage.
The bill calls for 1 dispensary for every 10 pharmacies.