COLUMBIA - The S.C. Senate passed a bill Wednesday that could benefit those with severe epilepsy by giving them access to a type of medical marijuana extract.
The bill, S. 1035, directs the state to work with the federal government to bring to South Carolina - and the Medical University of South Carolina - a clinical trial for a drug that uses a marijuana extract called cannabidiol oil. The extract does not include the chemical THC, associated with the "high" effects of marijuana.
Davis hopes to bring a clinical trial for Epidolex, a CBD-based drug manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company, to MUSC.
The bill also would allow doctors authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prescribe the oil to offer individual prescriptions. The Senate passed the measure 42-0.
Known as "CBD," the treatment has offered hope to many with some of the worst epileptic conditions, said Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, the bill's primary sponsor. "A modest bill, a small step toward," Davis said of the bill on the Senate floor.
He said he would continue to work to broaden the bill so more in South Carolina can gain access to CBD. The bill will be taken up by the S.C. House, and Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, has offered a similar bill. Davis said he would work with her to ensure a smooth process so the bill has a chance of passing this legislative session.
"This is a big step today," Davis said in an interview.
Davis had taken up the measure when he heard the story of 6-year-old Mary Louise Swing, a West Ashley girl who sometimes suffers hundreds of seizures per day and has to be monitored at all times.
Harriett Hilton, Swing's grandmother, attended Wednesday's Senate session wearing a purple ribbon in recognition of Purple Day, a national awareness day for epilepsy.
Hilton said that even if the bill passes the House and is signed into law, she worries that very few will be admitted to clinical trials or be able to get a prescription. The need is huge, she said.
"None of this is guaranteed," Hilton said. "But this is a huge step in helping many, many children get what they need."
Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.