Statehouse Spire, Legislature

Bills to legalize medical marijuana have been introduced in both the S.C. House and Senate.

There's a renewed effort to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina, and at least one local lawmaker is supporting the effort.

Nearly identical medical marijuana bills have been filed – both this week – in the S.C. House and Senate, and state Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, stands behind them.

"I have been a supporter of the Compassionate Care Act since it was first brought into legislation four years ago, and I continue to be an advocate," Taylor said Friday, adding: "It's personal with me, very personal."

State Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston, led the House version; state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, led the Senate version. Together, they're companion bills.

Bill Taylor, Medical Marijuana, ARC

State Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken.

The legislation, as introduced, would legalize, among other things, the licensed and regulated cultivation, transportation, purchase and consumption of medical marijuana.

The entire medical marijuana process would be monitored, tracked and essentially overseen by the state health department, per the bills.

Taylor on Jan. 15 posted on Facebook regarding the legislation, labeling it as "the most strictly regulated, socially conservative medical cannabis bill in the United States."

The Aiken Republican three days later lauded the bills for their shared rigidity.

"It was written for South Carolina because it includes all kinds of controls from SLED and DHEC, and criminal penalties if this is misused or diverted," Taylor said.

Licensed patients could have a combined total of 2 ounces of marijuana or marijuana product equivalents – foods and salves, tinctures and sprays – for every 14-day stretch.

The legislation, though, doesn't allow the marijuana to be smoked: "It is unlawful for a cardholder to smoke cannabis or use a device to facilitate the smoking of cannabis," the House and Senate versions read.

Those caught smoking would face a $150 fine.

"This is on the medical side," Taylor said, "there's no smoking of dope on this."

Medical marijuana would be made available to those with serious ailments or who are in end-of-life care. Both bills include a list of applicable conditions: post-traumatic stress disorder; epilepsy; Crohn's disease; cancer; multiple sclerosis; and persistent, severe nausea, for example.

"It's called the Compassionate Care Act for good reason," Taylor said.

Doctors familiar – who underwent training, per the legislation – would authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient. An in-person evaluation would be necessary.

"This is not for everyone, nor is it a help to everyone," Taylor said. "But a doctor will help decide that, along with a patient. …It's another option for them to look at."

Taylor believes the bills have traction, both in the public eye and in the Legislature.

"I hope the bill moves swiftly through both the House and the Senate," he said.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin