A Guide to South Carolina Cannabis Laws
Medical Marijuana is not legal yet in South Carolina
South Carolina Marijuana Laws
The justice system in South Carolina could serve serious charges for the simple possession of marijuana, as well as life-altering punishment for more severe offenses. South Carolina weed laws are extremely strict, with no indication of change on a non-medical level.
- 1 ounce or less: misdemeanor, a maximum sentence of 30 days imprisonment, a fine of $100 to $200
- Second possession charge of 1 ounce or less: misdemeanor, a maximum sentence of 1-year imprisonment, a maximum fine of $2,000
- Any amount over 1 ounce can be treated as a distribution crime
Sale or trafficking
- Sale of up to 10 pounds: felony, a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $5,000
- Transaction of 10 to 100 pounds: felony, 1 to 25 years imprisonment, a $10,000 to $25,000 fine ranging between first and third offense
- Sale of 100+ pounds: felony, at least 25 years imprisonment. a fine between $25,000 and $200,000
- Civil citation, maximum fine of $500
Growing Marijuana in South Carolina
- South Carolina weed laws state that the cultivation of fewer than 100 plants is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. Cultivation of more than 100 plants is a felony punishable by a minimum of 25 in prison and a fine between $25,000 and $200,000.
- Since home cultivation of cannabis would still be illegal under the S.C. Compassionate Care Act, growing marijuana in South Carolina won’t be part of upcoming cannabis law changes.
- Residents in need of medical weed are hopeful they will be receiving relief when it comes to cannabis legalization in South Carolina. Lawmakers will adjourn in May of this year regarding the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, but Senator Tom Davis believes both chambers of the legislature might approve the bill before then.
- Cancer; multiple sclerosis; a neurological disease or disorder (including epilepsy); sickle cell anemia; PTSD; autism; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; cachexia; a condition causing a person to be homebound that includes severe or persistent nausea; terminal illness; a chronic medical condition causing severe and persistent muscle spasms; or a chronic medical condition for which an opioid is or could be prescribed based on standards of care. The condition must also be debilitating to the individual patient.
- Special documentation is required for PTSD and alternatives to opioids.
- ID cards typically must be renewed annually. If the patient is expected to recover within a year, or no longer needs cannabis, the physician must make a notation, so it expires earlier.
- Patients cannot use medical cannabis — or receive an ID card to do so — if they hold a job in public safety, commercial transportation, or involving commercial machinery.
- Certifying physicians must complete a cannabis-specific continuing medical education course.
- Before certifying patients, physicians must conduct a thorough in-person evaluation, including a history of illness, past medical history, and alcohol and substance use history.
- Smoking cannabis would remain illegal, as would raw cannabis and paraphernalia used to smoke cannabis.
- Patients and caregivers would not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.
- A physician may specify the amount of cannabis products their patient could obtain in each 14-day period. Or the physician could choose to have a default limit of 1,600 milligrams of THC in ingested products (such as edibles), 8,200 milligrams in oils for vaporization, and 4,000 milligrams in topicals, such as lotions.
- Patients may not drive, operate a boat, train, or aircraft, or undertake any task that would be negligent or entail professional malpractice while impaired by cannabis.
- Cardholders and medical cannabis establishment staffers who break the law can have their ID cards revoked and, where applicable, face civil and/or criminal penalties.
Medical Cannabis Access
- Medical cannabis products would be dispensed by therapeutic cannabis pharmacies, overseen by a pharmacist-in-charge and licensed by both the Board of Pharmacy and DHEC.
- Pharmacists must complete continuing education on medical cannabis, including related to dosing and cannabinoid profiles.
- After a merit-based, scored application process, DHEC will license 15 cultivation centers, 30 processing facilities, one therapeutic cannabis pharmacy for every 20 pharmacies in the state (about 65), five testing laboratories, and four transporters. The application review process will consider location, background and qualifications, and business and security plans.
- Processing facilities will make products such as oils, consumable medicines, and salves.
- Independent testing laboratories will identify the amount of cannabinoids in cannabis products and test for pesticides, bacteria, and other contaminants.
Safeguards and Security
- DHEC will create regulations, including for seed-to-sale tracking, odor mitigation, recordkeeping, oversight, security, health and safety, transportation, employee training, capital requirements, and packaging and labeling. DHEC will also restrict advertising, logos, and signage and ensure businesses have discreet, medical appearances. Cultivation centers’ security must include perimeter intrusion detection systems and a 24-hour surveillance system accessible to law enforcement and DHEC.
- Each medical cannabis staffer must be licensed by the state and undergo a background check.
- Cannabis will be dispensed with a safety information flyer, including advice about possible risks, the need to safeguard cannabis from children, and noting federal law.
- Cannabis could only be grown and processed by licensees in a secure, enclosed facility, using a seed-to sale tracking system with approved security plans.
- Medical cannabis businesses may not be located within 1,000 feet of a school.
- DHEC may inspect anywhere marijuana is grown, packaged, or processed.
- A 24-hour secure verification system will enable law enforcement to verify ID cards.
- Cannabis packaging must be child-resistant. Edibles could not resemble commercially sold candies or be shaped like cartoons, toys, animals, or people. DHEC will regulate flavors.
- Localities may regulate the location, hours, and number of medical cannabis businesses. They could also completely prohibit dispensaries from operating in them.
- Patients could apply to DHEC to designate a caregiver to assist them with the medical use of cannabis, such as by picking up their cannabis from a dispensary.
- The bill protects registered patients and caregivers, medical cannabis establishment staff, state-chartered banks, attorneys, accountants, pharmacists, and doctors from arrest, prosecution, or penalties for actions allowed by the bill.
- Registered patients are protected from discrimination in child custody disputes and eligibility for organ transplants.
- Employers may continue to prohibit employees from working while under the influence or using cannabis at or during work. Private employers could fire patients who test positive.
Taxation and Fees
- DHEC will determine application and registration fees for cardholders and medical cannabis businesses. The fees must be enough to cover regulatory costs.
- Cannabis will be taxed at the same rate as non-prescription medications, 6%. Local option taxes would also apply to medical cannabis.
- After covering regulatory costs, revenue will be distributed as follows: 3% for research and training to improve detection of impaired driving; 10% for alcohol and drug abuse prevention, education, early intervention, and treatment; 5% to SLED; 5% to medical cannabis research; 2% for drug safety education; and 75% to the General Fund.
How to Qualify For a Medical Marijuana Card in South Carolina
- To qualify for medical marijuana treatment in South Carolina, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment
- Have a written certification recommendation from a registered South Carolina physician. That’s where we come in!
- Proof of South Carolina residency (current Driver’s License or State ID card).
South Carolina Cannabis Advertising and Marketing Guide
- Restrictions on the advertising, signage, and display of cannabis products, provided that the restrictions may not prevent appropriate signs on the property of a therapeutic cannabis pharmacy; listings in business directories, including phone books; listings in cannabis-related or medical publications; and the sponsorship of health or not-for-profit charity or advocacy events, provided that the restrictions must include:
- requirements that the medical cannabis establishment’s logo, advertising, and signage be tasteful, respectful, and medically focused and must not appeal to minors or contain cartoon-like figures or attempts at humor;
- requirements that medical cannabis establishments submit any logo or sign for review to the department in accordance with department regulations;
- prohibitions on medical cannabis establishments from using marijuana leaves or slang for cannabis or cannabis products in or on their signs, logos, packaging, or structures;
- limitations on the size or location of signs; and
- prohibitions against using neon-colored signage, logos, or packaging, or neon- colored signage or logos on structures;
- Advertising, marketing and branding here may not be deceptive, false or misleading; nor by means of television, radio, internet, billboard or print publication unless at least eighty-five percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be twenty-one years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data; utilize statements, designs, representations, pictures or illustrations that portray a person younger than twenty-one years of age; utilize mascots, cartoons, brand sponsorships and celebrity endorsements that are reasonably expected to appeal to a person younger than twenty-one years of age; make false or misleading statements about licensees; utilize promotional giveaways, coupons or free marijuana or marijuana products; utilize radio or loudspeaker equipment inside or outside of a marijuana establishment for the purpose of attracting attention to the establishment or use sponsorships of any kind.
- Unsolicited pop-up advertisements on the internet are not permitted and retailers are prohibited from using in an advertisement for marijuana a subject matter, language or slogan addressed to and intended to encourage persons under twenty-one years of age to purchase or consume marijuana or marijuana products.
South Carolina Cannabis Tax Guide
- All sales of medical cannabis are subject to a six percent sales tax at the point of sale.
- On the twentieth day of each month, each dispensary shall pay the taxes due on all cannabis and cannabis products sold in the prior calendar month.
- All revenue collected pursuant to the medical cannabis tax must be placed in the South Carolina Medical Cannabis Program Fund.
- No other tax may be imposed on the purchase of cannabis or cannabis products. https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess124_2021-2022/bills/3361.htm