Despite the introduction of several medical and recreational marijuana bills by South Carolina lawmakers, the state has yet to pass any substantial legislation. There is indication that the state could adopt more comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in the coming legislative session.
Recreational Marijuana Law in South Carolina
Recreational marijuana remains illegal in South Carolina. As policies currently stand, marijuana possession — regardless of amount — is a misdemeanor. Those convicted of possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana are subject to a maximum fine of $200 and incarceration up to 30 days. If the amount of possession is greater than 1 ounce, penalties can be as great as 1 year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
Over the past two years, multiple decriminalization bills have been introduced, but each has been rejected by lawmakers and has not become law.
Medical Marijuana Law in South Carolina
South Carolina has implemented a very restrictive limited low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), high-cannabidiol (CBD) oil medical cannabis law. Under the current law, only patients suffering from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, or other forms of severe intractable epilepsy, with a written certification from a licensed physician, are able to legally access the CBD oil. The CBD oil must be comprised of less than 0.9% THC and at least 15% CBD. The Medical University of South Carolina provides the cannabis oil.
While the limited CBD oil law is a positive first step toward the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, it restricts cannabis from nearly all residents. On the first day of the legislative session in January 2017, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy did introduce a comprehensive medical cannabis bill that would allow those with debilitating medical conditions to access cannabis from a state regulated dispensary.
CBD from Hemp Oil in South Carolina
Consumption of CBD hemp oil is federally legal, as CBD hemp oil falls under the same importation and commerce laws as other hemp products. The state of South Carolina has no further policy specifically related to CBD hemp oil, so it is legal to purchase and use.
Cultivation of Cannabis in South Carolina
The cultivation of cannabis remains illegal in South Carolina. The growing of any amount, whether for personal or medicinal use, is a felony. Cultivating less than 100 plants is punishable by 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
In May 2017, the South Carolina Legislature approved House Bill 3559 to establish a hemp pilot program that permits licensed farmers to grow, harvest, and sell hemp in South Carolina. In its first year, the program will award 20 licenses permitting farmers to each cultivate up to 20 acres of the crop. In its second year, 50 growers will be licensed to cultivate up to 50 acres. On its third and following years, the Department of Agriculture will determine whether the program should be expanded further.
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