Medical marijuana bills filed in South Carolina

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A South Carolina statehouse representative has pre-filed two medical marijuana bills that his fellow legislators will consider during the 2017 legislative session.

If passed, the bills would be another major advance for cannabis legalization in the traditionally conservative South, where Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana passed medical marijuana laws in 2016. Tennessee and Kentucky lawmakers also pre-filed medical marijuana bills this month that will be considered in their 2017 legislative sessions.

Democrat Todd Rutherford of Columbia, South Carolina, filed H. 3128, the “Put Patients First Act,” which would allow qualifying medical marijuana patients to possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, a states’ rights think tank. Up to three of the plants could be mature.

For qualifying conditions, the bill includes “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition, or treatment of that disease or medical condition, that results in” severe pain, severe nausea, cachexia, seizures or muscle spasms. The bill also lists cancer, glaucoma and HIV as qualifying conditions. It would allow patients and their doctors to petition the state’s health department to receive medical marijuana patient approval for other medical conditions.

Rutherford’s second bill, H.3162, would allow military veterans who have been honorably discharged and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to possess up to one ounce of cannabis or up to 10 grams of hashish.