Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Supporters of a medical marijuana bill gathered at the South Carolina State House Wednesday to call for the measure to be passed.
"It's just a shame that we have to break the law just to live," said Clint Jackson, a former police officer suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PSTD. "I've tried twelve different medicines, and my doctor, all she can tell me is I've tried everything. There's nothing else that the medical community can do for me and this is my last, best hope. It's all of our last, best hope."
The group, led by Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), says medical marijuana can be used safely to treat debilitating medical conditions such as cancer and glaucoma.
Steva Kiser's 2-year-old grandson, Ezra, has epilepsy. She says medical marijuana had made a difference.
"You just can't imagine this tiny one-week-old baby having a grand mal seizure and unfortunately it didn't get any better," said Kiser. "We went from hospital to hospital to hospital, in his first year of life he was in the hospital 14 times, and nothing helped."
Kiser says her daughter had to move to Colorado to get Ezra the relief he needed. She says he is improving now and wants lawmakers to pass Rutherford's bill, the "Put Patients First Act" to pass in South Carolina.
"I would hope that they would not tell another parent, another grandparent that they have to watch their child, watch their grandchild suffer. It's tear-jerking enough for me to sit there and listen to them. I can't imagine for anybody to tell them your grandchild needs to suffer or move to Colorado. That's just not what we should be about in South Carolina," said Rutherford.
The measure would allow people to possess two ounces of the drug legally. However, those persons would have to have medical verification from a doctor and register with DHEC for an identification card to be able to use the drug.
Farmers would also have to have state approval to grow the plant, and caregivers who dispense the drug would have to have DHEC certification and pass a background check.
Rutherford also announced that state Democrats will put a referendum on their primary ballot in June about medical marijuana. He said if the bill doesn't pass this year, they'll use the results of the referendum to push the legislation forward next year.