Pubdate: Thu, 15 May 2014
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2014 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Jeremy Borden


COLUMBIA - A bill that would allow for patients who have severe
epilepsy to be treated with a type of medical marijuana is headed for
a final vote in the General Assembly next week, where it's expected to

The bill, H. 4803, has already moved through the S.C. House and its
passage in the S.C. Senate is expected next week after a key Senate
committee moved it unanimously on Thursday.

The bill provides for the potential use of cannabidiol oil (CBD),
which contains marijuana extract but little THC, the chemical that
produces a "high." The drug has offered hope to many who have
difficult-to-treat epileptic symptoms, although clinical trials and
extensive medical research is in early stages.

The measure was prompted by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, after hearing
the story of West Ashley's Jill Swing, a 6-year-old who is severely
inhibited by near constant seizures. Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville,
moved the bill through the House.

Introduced this year, the bill has sailed through the General Assembly
in remarkable time for an issue that could have been bogged down in
controversy. Davis hopes it's a harbinger of things to come. "I hope
we take up other operative uses of medical marijuana," Davis said. "We
need to go ahead and start to break down the prejudices against this

Jill Swing and Harriett Hilton, Mary Louise's mother and grandmother,
attended Thursday's hearing and said they were delighted by the turn
of the events. Originally, the bill was solely meant to help prompt
clinical trials for CBD oil at the Medical University of South
Carolina and other state hospitals that treat severe epilepsy.

It does that and now also allows doctors to prescribe the drug. It
provides protection for doctors from state prosecution who do so.

The bill also sets up a joint House-Senate committee to begin looking
at how the state would handle a federal decision to decriminalize
marijuana for medical purposes. While many states have begun to
decriminalize medical marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law,
which has caused myriad issues with practically getting medical
marijuana into the hands of patients.

Many are hoping that will change over the next few

"So that we're prepared," Davis told senators of why a study committee
was needed. "If we don't have something in place it will be the wild
west out there."

Swing said there was still much work to be done for CBD oil to help
her daughter. The biggest hurdle: supply of the drug. While the bill
would allow for doctors to prescribe the drug, there is no mechanism
for doctors to be able to get the drug or for the state to legally
grow it.

Clinical trials, if approved, can often be difficult to get into and
the studies also involve a placebo.

"So many states are running into the same issues," Swing

The Senate Medical Affairs Committee also moved to the Senate floor a
bill that would set up a state program for middle school-age children
to implement a voluntary vaccination and education program on human
papilloma virus, or HPV, which can cause cancer. It is the most common
sexually transmitted infection and anyone can contract it, including
those who only have sex with one partner, according to the Centers for
Disease Control.
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