Is CBD Oil Legal In South Carolina?
South Carolina CBD Laws - 2019
Is CBD Oil legal in South Carolina? The answer is, “It’s complicated.” There just is no short answer. It depends on a number of factors such as what kind of CBD oil you’re talking about, whether or not you have certain medical conditions, and how old you are. Furthermore, whether or not there’s a shop nearby depends on where you’re looking. And, to add to the confusion, the laws are changing so quickly that it really depends on when you’re asking. Let’s tear this apart and try to make some sense of it all.
There are at least five aspects that need to be clarified to fully understand the legalities of CBD oil in South Carolina:
- Whether or not the product was made from hemp or marijuana
- If made from marijuana, how much THC does it contain
- Whether or not you suffer from an intractable form of epilepsy
- Whether or not you’re planning on smoking it
- Whether or not a new bill has been passed since this post was written
Let’s look at each of these factors in a little more detail.
South Carolina CBD Laws
Hemp CBD Oil vs Marijuana CBD Oil
South Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Program
What Conditions Does CBD Help
Where to Buy CBD In NV
What’s The Difference Between Hemp CBD Oil and Marijuana CBD Oil?
Cannabis is an interesting plant. Which laws and government agencies are responsible for its regulation actually depends on the level of one single compound produced in the plant. It’s known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This one single chemical, because it gets people high, is at the center of a firestorm that’s been raging for nigh on 80 years.
In order to be considered hemp, a cannabis strain must produce levels of THC below 0.3% by dry weight. Anything, above that, and it’s considered marijuana. But it’s all the same species of plant — Cannabis sativa l.
If this were all there is to the CBD story in South Carolina, I could end this topic here and move on to the next factor, but it’s not that simple. If you dig a little deeper you learn that there are two more issues that need clarification. Firstly, there are two distinct types of hemp. Secondly, only particular strains of marijuana and particular products made from marijuana are legal in South Carolina.
Let’s start with the hemp situation. If you’ve ever read any news article about CBD oil, 99 times out of 100 the writer will tell you that CBD oil is made from a crop known as industrial hemp. I know this is shocking, but that is not the least bit true. It’s not that the news media is lying to you, it’s that they haven’t dug deep enough to fully understand the situation, and they’re just going on what they’re told.
So what’s the difference?
First, let’s take a look at industrial hemp. This staple crop has been cultivated on a global scale from, literally, the dawn of civilization until 1930 when unscrupulous politicians made all forms of cannabis illegal in the U.S. (That’s another story altogether.)
Industrial hemp is farmed to produce two commodities — hemp fiber, and hemp seeds. It’s grown in vast fields packed closely together. The plants grow very fast and very tall sometimes reaching upwards of 12 feet or higher.
As soon as the plant shows it’s sex, it stops putting its energy into upward growth and starts putting its energy into producing flowers and pollen. If you’re growing the crop for fibers, this is the ideal to time to harvest, when the fibers are at their strongest, longest, and most flexible. However, if the crop is allowed to mature it produces copious amounts of seeds which are highly nutritious and packed with protein and healthy fats.
Here’s the thing though. What neither of these plants is packed with is cannabinoids. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are produced in abundance in the plant’s sticky, resinous flowers, not in its fibers and certainly not in its seeds. The bottom line in the matter is that industrial hemp is a horrible crop to grow if you’re planning on making CBD oil.
So then, if CBD oil is not made from industrial hemp, what is it made from? The truth is it’s made from a strain of marijuana that has had the THC bred out of it. Because it falls below the 0.3% THC threshold it’s considered hemp. But it looks like marijuana, it smells like marijuana, it’s grown like marijuana, and it’s processed like marijuana. This crop is known in the industry as phytocannabinoid rich hemp, or PCR hemp. It’s in the resinous flower clusters of this marijuana lookalike that CBD is produced in abundance.
The second part of this equation that’s particular to South Carolina is that under its current medical cannabis program, the legal limit for THC in CBD oil is 0.9% — a whole 0.6% more than hemp. Also, in order to be legal for the state’s medical marijuana patients, CBD oil must contain at least 15% CBD. This restriction in levels of cannabinoids substantially narrows down the strains of marijuana that can be used to produce the oil.
In fact, in the state of South Carolina, the difference between PCR hemp and legal marijuana strains is just slightly more than the level of accuracy of the testing. Testing methods for cannabinoids are generally within a 0.5% tolerance. That means the difference in THC levels between PCR hemp strains and legal marijuana strains could end up being a mere 0.1%. Frankly, this minuscule difference makes it hardly worthwhile to jump through all the hoops necessary to gain legal access to medical cannabis oil.
Which brings us to our next factor in determining if CBD oil is legal — the state’s medical marijuana program.
What About South Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Program?
South Carolina’s current medical marijuana program is among the strictest in the nation. Not only does the law restrict the amount of THC in the oil to drastically low levels, it completely forbids smoking of marijuana or cannabis oil.
“Julian’s Law” as the program is known went into effect back in 2014. As we mentioned only cannabis oil is available to patients, and it must contain less than 0.9% THC, and more than 15% CBD.
Also, under Julian’s Law, access to this low-THC, high-CBD oil is limited to patients suffering from intractable forms of epilepsy. That’s it. No other conditions allowed.
In order to qualify for the program a patient must be diagnosed with either Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, or Dravet Syndrome, or any other form of severe, uncontrollable epilepsy. Furthermore, the patient must have tried traditional therapies with no success.
But does Julian’s Law actually make this low-THC oil legal? Technically it does not. It only provides legal protection for those patients who qualify for the program as well as for doctors who recommend the drug. It doesn’t provide for a legal market, there are no provisions for growing the strains needed to produce the product, and there are no licensed dispensaries. The Medical University of South Carolina is the only legal source of the oil within the state. Patients are pretty much on their own to procure this type of CBD oil. And assuring that it falls within the legal THC limits is near impossible.
In order to qualify for the legal protections under Julian’s Law, you must have proof of residency and obtain a written recommendation from a medical practitioner who is licensed in the state of South Carolina. You must apply for and receive a medical marijuana card from the state of South Carolina before you are technically protected.
Do You Really Need A Medical Marijuana Card?
Many patients in South Carolina who use marijuana for medical reasons either don’t currently qualify for the program or want greater freedom in the manner of consumption. And as most of us know, finding marijuana on the black market is fairly easy and far more convenient than dealing with the state’s rules.
Is it worth the risk? That’s up to you. But here’s what you’re risking:
The possession of one ounce or less of bud, or 10 grams or less of concentrates such as hash and cannabis oil comes with a $200 fine and up to 30 days of jail time upon first offense. Upon subsequent offenses, the penalties are increased to a $2,000 fine and one year of jail time. Being caught with more than one ounce is considered possession with intent to sell or distribute which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even just the possession of smoking or vaping paraphernalia with pot residue will result in a fine of $500.
Although the medical marijuana card acts as a sort of “get out of jail free” card, these same laws hold true for cardholders. Furthermore, if a cardholder is caught with cannabis oil containing greater than 0.9% THC they risk these same penalties listed above. The same holds true if they are caught smoking their oil.
And another thing. Using cannabis oil containing THC puts patients in jeopardy of failing a drug test and losing a job, or, worse, failing a roadside sobriety test and losing their driver’s license and having to deal with costly court appearances.
The question becomes, does the (up to) 0.6% difference in the amount of THC in the product really make a difference in its efficacy? There are cases in which added THC can provide added benefits, however many medical cannabis patients, even those with conditions such as epilepsy seem to do very well with fully legal hemp CBD. In fact, the FDA recently approved a drug called Epidiolex, the first drug in the U.S. which contains CBD, for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. The drug is essentially pure CBD with zero THC.
What’s The Next Step For South Carolina’s Medical Marijuana Program?
Things are looking up for South Carolina residents who could benefit from a broader medical marijuana program in the state. Support has been building steadily and seems to have reached a critical mass.
In June of 2018, a non-binding ballot resolution on the state primary ballot appealed to 82 percent of Democratic voters who all agreed that doctors should be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana as they see fit. Meanwhile, former state Rep. James Smith won the Democratic nomination for governor. Smith was a co-sponsor of a House bill which would overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. Then John Warren, a Republican from Upstate who also supports medical marijuana reform, earned a runoff with Gov. Henry McMaster. Both Smith and Warren are military combat veterans who advocate for the use of medical marijuana in treating PTSD and other medical issues common to veterans.
A more recent poll suggests that 72 percent of South Carolinians support legalizing medical marijuana including nearly two-thirds of republicans. And, finally, a poll released in January claimed the state’s voters support medical marijuana programs by a margin of two to one.
Cannabis reform advocates are eager to take advantage of the groundswell in support. A new, vastly advanced medical marijuana program is being proposed in the state Senate. The “Compassionate Care Act” would allow doctors to legally prescribe medical marijuana for a variety of qualifying conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, ulcerative colitis, wasting syndrome, and others, as well as any “chronic or debilitating diseases for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.”
Although the measure would expand the menu of available cannabis meds from simply oils to include vape pens, gel caps, suppositories, patches, edibles, and topicals, smokable forms would still be prohibited under the law.
Another bill in the works might decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis or 10 grams of hashish. Instead of 30 days in jail and a $200 fine, possession would be deemed a civil infraction. Possession would still come with a fine but there would be no court appearance and no risk of jail time. But there’s a catch. The proposed measure would only apply to qualified military veterans suffering from PTSD.
What Is CBD Good For?
Some of the medical conditions which are commonly treated with CBD oil include the following:
- Chronic Pain
- Crohn’s Disease
- Insomnia – Sleep Disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
Additionally, scientific studies strongly suggest that CBD oil provides the following benefits:
Is Hemp-Derived CBD Oil Legal in South Carolina?
So, yeah, the low-THC oils made from what can barely be called marijuana are pretty much out of reach of the vast bulk of South Carolina residents. But what about the hemp-derived variety?
For the most part it’s legal to import hemp CBD oil into the state, and many shops in the state sell CBD oil and other CBD-infused products produced from hemp, especially in the bigger cities in the state including Charleston, Columbia, Mount Pleasant, Greenville, and Rock Hill.
As simple as this should be, there are some complications — not in regards to the legality of purchasing CBD oil, but the legality of selling CBD oil. This past summer 2018, the city of Myrtle Beach banned the sale of all cannabis products — hemp products included — on Ocean Boulevard, a high-traffic tourist location on the coast. City officials complained that CBD oil merchants offer drug paraphernalia and glamorize drug use. However, CBD oil isn’t banned in the entire city, only the Ocean Boulevard area.
Where To Buy Legal CBD Oil in South Carolina
So there you have it. As promised, it’s complicated, and it’s evolving.
Let’s get to the good part and talk about where you can legally purchase CBD oil in South Carolina.
First of all, if you do qualify for the state’s limited medical cannabis program, your doctor should be able to give you some guidance on where to purchase low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil produced from marijuana (more accurately marijuana lite).
For everyone else, for the time being, you can buy hemp CBD oil at your local head shop or vape shop as well as at some health food stores. You cannot get it at CVS or Walmart yet, but it seems inevitable that CBD will find its way into the mainstream of health foods and dietary supplements at some point. [UPDATE: On March 21, 2019, CVS announced plans to sell CBD in 800 stores in states where it is legal.]
You can also order hemp CBD oil online, as well as CBD-infused edibles, topical, vapes, and so forth and have them shipped right to your home saving you from having to hunt down a good local source.
Got pets? More and more companies are now offering hemp CBD products for pets. It’s a little harder to find in local shops, but there are plenty of places online that sell pet CBD. It’s a bad idea to give your pet CBD products made for humans (they’re too strong), and an even worse idea to give your pet products containing THC as it can make them extremely ill.