Pubdate: Wed, 21 Feb 2018
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2018 The State
Author: Maayan Schechter


South Carolina could allow prison inmates with physical or
mental-health issues to be treated with cannabidiol oil, an active
ingredient found in marijuana plants.

The S.C. House budget-writing committee OK'd an amendment Tuesday that
would authorize the S.C. Department of Corrections to start a pilot
program to study the effects of cannabidiol oil use on inmates.

South Carolina already has a law -- Julian's Law -- that allows
patients with certain forms of epilepsy to use cannabidiol oil.

Supporters say the oil is an effective treatment for a variety of
illnesses, helping those who suffer from schizophrenia, epilepsy,
anxiety and seizures. In some cases, the oil is used instead of
prescription drugs.

The inmate program would be voluntary, and inmates would not be forced
to join, said state Rep. Mike Pitts, the Laurens Republican who filed
the budget amendment.

Pitts said the program would give S.C. lawmakers a chance to see
whether using the oil saves money for the prisons agency compared to
buying psychosomatic drugs, "which are extremely expensive."

"This is a very progressive thing," said state Rep. Bill Herbkersman,
R-Beaufort. "Its time has come. I thank you (Pitts) for doing it."

The Corrections Department would be in charge of writing the program's
guidelines. However, the state agency did not request the proposal and
is not in favor of it, said spokesman Jeffrey Taillon.

Pitts said his proposal is still in its infancy stage and could
change. The 2018-'19 budget goes into effect July 1.
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