A bill that that would allow children with severe epilepsy to obtain an oil extracted from marijuana to help control their seizures passed the state Senate on Wednesday, after an amendment allowing doctors to prescribe the oil was approved earlier in the day.
The Senate's Medical Affairs Committee approved a version of the bill last week that would have made the cannabidiol oil available only in forms approved by the FDA, and required it to be administered through clinical trials.
That change would have prohibited Mary Louise Swing, the 6-year-old who inspired the bill, from receiving CBD oil in South Carolina, her mother Jill Swing said. The only FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, is restricted to two types of epilepsy that Mary Louise does not have, she said.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, proposed an amendment Wednesday to allow doctors and physicians to prescribe the oil, which has no psychoactive properties. That provision is included in the bill that now moves to the House of Representatives after a third, procedural reading Thursday.
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"It's a big step forward," Davis said.
Davis introduced the bill in February after meeting Mary Louise's grandmother, Beaufort resident Harriett Hilton, who told him about her granddaughter's condition. Mary Louise takes two medications but still suffers between 20 and 60 seizures an hour. Without medication, she might suffer as many as 200 seizures an hour.
Swing said she was excited by the news, calling it a "forward motion" for South Carolina.
Hilton and Swing were both at the Statehouse on Wednesday, which also happened to be Purple Day, a worldwide epilepsy awareness day.
Swing said she and Hilton both wore purple, handed out purple ribbons to senators, and gave Davis two bowls of Hershey's Kisses with purple wrapping to pass out on the Senate floor. Davis said he ran up to the Senate balcony to give Hilton a hug after the bill passed unanimously.
"I cannot thank them enough," Hilton said. "This is a huge start. It took a lot of courage to do this. There were senators who went into session probably unsure of it, but nobody went against it. I'm really proud of the senators."
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
- Cannabidiol oil bill facing challenges as it moves closer to S.C. Senate vote, March 24, 2014: http://bit.ly/1ln3g52