SC’s Compassionate Care Act Doesn’t Legalize Marijuana

When will SC legalize marijuana?

Not in the Compassionate Care Act, which is currently pending in both the House and Senate. The Compassionate Care Act would allow physicians to prescribe non-smokable THC products to people who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, but it would not allow anyone to smoke the plant.

If the Compassionate Care Act is passed by the SC House and Senate and signed into law by the governor, what would the new law do?

What is the SC Compassionate Care Act?

The SC Compassionate Care Act is one of several marijuana legalization bills that have been pending in the SC legislature in recent years.

As marijuana legalization bills do in SC, the Compassionate Care Act is likely to die without a vote, to be resurrected once again next year. If it is passed, however, it may provide some relief for patients who have debilitating conditions, although it doesn’t actually legalize marijuana.

Who Would Be Allowed to Have Marijuana Products if the Bill Passes?

The Compassionate Care Act would authorize the opening of dispensaries in SC that could provide “THC products” to patients who have received a medical marijuana card after being diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition.

The proposed law lists qualifying medical conditions, including:

  • Cancer,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • A neurological disease or epilepsy,
  • Glaucoma,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • Crohn’s disease,
  • Sickle cell anemia,
  • Ulcerative colitis,
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome,
  • Autism,
  • Severe or persistent nausea,
  • Chronic medical conditions with severe and persistent muscle spasms,
  • Chronic or debilitating diseases for which an opioid could have been prescribed for severe pain,
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy of one year or less, or
  • Other serious medical conditions determined by the Medical Cannabis Board.

Qualifying patients can get a medical marijuana card, which they can present at one of a limited number of dispensaries to purchase their medical marijuana. Well, they can’t actually have marijuana. What will they get?

How Much Marijuana Can Patients Have if the Bill Passes?

The proposed law does not authorize anyone to possess or use marijuana. None. Zero. It would authorize patients to purchase, possess, and use “cannabis products,” including:

  • Lotions, creams, and ointments containing up to 4000 mg of delta-9 THC over a 14-day period,
  • Oils, tinctures, capsules, or edibles containing up to 1600 mg of delta-9 THC over a 14-day period, or
  • Cannabis oil containing up to 8200 mg of delta-9 THC over a 14-day period.

Even if you are dying from a terminal illness and marijuana is your only practical relief, the government is not going to let you grow weed or smoke weed. They might let you have a THC ointment, though…

Criminal Offenses Created by the SC Compassionate Care Act

If passed into law, the Compassionate Care Act would create new criminal offenses (of course), complicating SC’s marijuana laws.

For example, it would be a crime to:

  • Possess actual marijuana, with reduced penalties for a cardholder who possesses an ounce or less of the plant – up to a $500 fine for a first offense and up to 30 days in jail (and loss of your medical marijuana card) for a second offense,
  • Make misrepresentations to law enforcement related to the use of cannabis products to avoid arrest – up to a $1000 fine per occurrence,
  • Make misrepresentations to a physician to get a medical marijuana card – up to a $1000 fine per occurrence,
  • Divert (selling to a non-cardholder) marijuana products – up to five years in prison, and
  • Fail to notify the Department that your name, address, email address, or phone number has changed – up to a $500 fine per occurrence.

I don’t believe that the Compassionate Care Act will pass – SC’s legislature is paralyzed when it comes to marijuana legalization, even when the proposed law only authorizes THC as medicine in non-smokable form.

What would make sense?

End marijuana prohibition. End the debate. Stop complicating laws and creating crimes. Stop putting people in jail. Legalize it, tax it, and be done with it already.

Marijuana Defense Lawyers in Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC marijuana defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone accepts criminal defense cases in the Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach areas of SC. If you’ve been charged with any marijuana offense in South Carolina, including:

Call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us a message for a free consultation about your case.