Lowcountry lawmakers lay the groundwork for decriminalizing medical marijuana

Jayden Kozack, 11, and his sister Sophia, 7, pose for a picture with Ryan Riffle of Chapin. Jayden and his mother, Robin, attribute the reduction in Sophia’s seizures to CBD oil, a form of medical marijuana.

COLUMBIA — An 11-year-old boy brought several adults to tears on Wednesday when he detailed how his sister’s face has come to life since the state passed a law that allows for the use of cannabidiol oil, a form of medial marijuana.

Jayden Kozack of Chapin stood before dozens on the steps of the Statehouse, where he advocated for the use of what is known as CBD oil, a marijuana extract that offers hope for those with severe forms of epilepsy. His speech was part of a news conference by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, who sought to bring attention to bills they’ve proposed decriminalizing marijuana.

“We have to get over this prejudice and this bias against cannabis and look at it like any other medicine,” Davis said. “We have to lose this 1960s thinking about the product.”

Davis acknowledged the bill would not advance fast enough to become law this year, but said it gives lawmakers time to iron out any potential issues on how the state will regulate medical marijuana so that it’s ready to take up when the Legislature returns in January.

Last year, Horne and Davis championed the passing of legislation that decriminalized the use of CBD. Advocates during Wednesday’s press conference said the state should now go forth with decriminalizing medical marijuana in general.

Among those who spoke in favor of legalizing medical marijuana was veteran Jonathan Lubecky of Summerville, who has testified several times before lawmakers about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury he suffered while serving in Afghanistan.

Lubecky, 38, said doctors had him on more than 30 medications. He told the crowd he has tried to commit suicide four times, including pulling the trigger on a gun he put to his head that jammed.

“I am asking for something that is simple: I want to live,” Lubecky said. “I have tried everything else. It doesn’t work.”

Jayden spoke after Lubecky, and talked about his 7-year-old sister, Sophia, who has cerebral palsy. The frequency of Sophia’s seizures dropped dramatically since she was placed on CBD oil, Jayden said. Sophia is now much more active, and can calmly sit and listen to him reading her books, something he said she wouldn’t do before.

“I met my sister six months ago,” Jayden said. “And I thank God every day. She is joyful every day. She’s not staring in blank. She’s joyful.”

Reach Cynthia Roldan at 708-5891.