Mary Louise Swing has to wear big, dark glasses at school because light can cause severe seizures in the epileptic 9-year-old.
Over the summer, her mother, Jill Swing, took Mary Louise to Maine, where medical marijuana is legal.
“I brought home a different child than I took up there,” Swing said Thursday, adding Mary Louise was able to go outside for long walks with no severe consequences.
Swing, who has been pushing for three years to legalize the medical use of marijuana in South Carolina, attended a meeting Thursday of a state Senate subcommittee that is considering a medical pot bill.
In the coming months, senators on the panel will hear from supporters and opponents of legalizing medical pot.
The proposal’s main sponsor — libertarian state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort — noted Thursday that 28 states and the District of Carolina have legalized medical pot. “This is an area where people are ahead of politicians.”
In 2015, South Carolina legalized cannabidiol, an oil that has low doses of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Since then, Davis has urged his peers to legalize medical marijuana.
Medical pot is needed, in part, to address the opioid epidemic, Davis said, adding South Carolinians are getting hooked on prescription painkillers and then turning to heroin “or worse.”
But state Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Clarendon, indicated he opposed the bill, saying he would not be persuaded by the decision of other states to legalize medical pot. Johnson added he has made similar arguments in the past — citing the decision by other states to expand Medicaid, which South Carolina rejected — and “that fell on deaf ears.”
Johnson also noted law enforcement officials oppose legalizing marijuana for medical use.
S.C. Law Enforcement Chief Mark Keel has said he opposes legalizing marijuana — for medical or recreational use. Keel has said legalizing marijuana leads to more traffic fatalities, crime, emergency room admissions, teen use and disciplinary problems at schools.