South Carolina lawmakers review bill to legalize marijuana for medical use

February 18, 2007

, WPDE ABC TV News Channel 15 (SC)

Marijuana could be a prescription drug, if a Lowcountry senator's bill passes through South Carolina Legislature.
A Myrtle Beach woman, whose husband is fighting pancreatic cancer, is fighting to see the bill passed. Sandy Gabriel's husband was diagnosed six years ago, and she's been his caretaker ever since. This month, in between his many surgeries and doctor's appointments, she travels to the state capital, pushing a bill that would legalize medical use of marijuana.
Sandy says, "I think medical marijuana does help with pain, nausea, depression, anxiety, and most of all, appetite."

The bill would allow South Carolina doctors to write a prescription for medical marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions, like cancer. Dr. Vijay Paudel with Coastal Cancer Center says, "We do know marijuana can stimulate your appetite and help with nausea." But Dr. Paudel argues, so do other legal medications. As his cancer patients struggle through chemotherapy, he prescribes a variety of pills that are FDA approved. Dr. Paudel says there's a lack of medical research on marijuana, and he worries legalizing the drug could open the door for dealers on the street. Despite those concerns, Sandy Gabriel will fight for the right to use marijuana to wash away her husband's pain, and she hopes lawmakers will listen.

The medical marijuana bill would allow qualified patients or caretakers to grow their own marijuana plants, but the law would limit the amount they could possess.

The senator pushing to legalize marijuana says he proposed the bill because his wife died a painful death because of lung cancer.

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