South Carolina Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS SOUTH CAROLINA'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 2/16/2022
A bill to legalize medical cannabis in South Carolina has officially passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote on February 10, 2022. The success of this vote advances the reform to the House of Representatives for consideration. Although this is a monumental milestone for South Carolina residents, it is known by Senator Tom Davis (R) as, "the most conservative medical cannabis bill in the country." Here is what you should know about the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (s.150):
WHAT ARE SOUTH CAROLINA'S CURRENT CANNABIS LAWS?
Qualifying for Medical Cannabis Program: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act(S. 150) was meticulously written to create a well-regulated medical cannabis program that allows severely ill patients to use medical cannabis when recommended by their physician. The bill's qualifying conditions are: cancer; multiple sclerosis; epilepsy, or other severe neurological diseases/disorders; sickle cell anemia; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); autism; Crohn's disease; ulcerative colitis; cachexia; severe nausea or other conditions causing an individual to be homebound; terminal illness; chronic muscle spasms; or a debilitating condition in which an opioid could be prescribed for care. All qualifying patients must have at least one qualifying medical condition, a written certification issued by a physician, and application to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for a medical cannabis registration card.
Physicians: Registered physicians must complete a cannabis-specific continuing medical education course to qualify as prescribing physicians. The physician must conduct an in-person evaluation before certifying patients for medical cannabis. The in-person assessment must include a history of illness, past medical history, and alcohol and/or substance use history. When prescribing a patient to the medical cannabis program, physicians must specify the number of cannabis products their patients can obtain in a 14-day period. Physicians may choose to have a default limit of 1,600 milligrams (mg) of THC in ingested cannabis products, 8,200 mg of THC in oils for vaporization, and 4,000 mg in topicals for dermal application.
Limitations: The South Carolina medical cannabis program does limit how the product is consumed and cultivated. Smoking cannabis remains illegal, including raw cannabis in paraphernalia. It is unlawful for patients and caregivers to grow their own supply of cannabis. Qualifying patients and medical cannabis establishment staff who break the law can have their DHEC identification cards revoked, and may face civil or criminal penalties.
WHAT IS SOUTH CAROLINA'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
Access to Medical Cannabis: Medicinal cannabis products will be dispensed in a therapeutic cannabis pharmacy setting. Each cannabis pharmacy will be overseen by a pharmacist-in-charge, and must be licensed by both the Board of Pharmacy and DHEC. After the merit-based application process, the DHEC will license only 15 cultivation centers, 30 manufacturing facilities, and one therapeutic cannabis pharmacy for every 20 pharmacies in the state. In addition, the DHEC will allow five testing laboratories, and four transporter licenses throughout the State of South Carolina. Manufacturing facilities will only be permitted to make oils, ingestible products, and salves. Testing laboratories must separate manufacturing license holders, and identify the level of cannabinoids, pesticides, microbial, and other contaminants in all cannabis products dispensed to medical patients.
Safeguards and Security: There will be significant regulations surrounding seed-to-sale tracking, odor mitigation, recordkeeping, oversight and security, health and safety, transportation safety, employee training, capital requirements, and packaging and labeling. Advertising, logos and signage will be heavily restricted to have discreet medical appearances. All cultivation centers must have perimeter intrusion detection systems, and a 24-hour surveillance system in an enclosed facility. All medical cannabis facilities may not be within 1,000 feet of a school, and a 24-hour secure verification system will be required for law enforcement to verify medical cannabis identification cards. No cannabis products or packaging can resemble commercially sold candies, or be shaped like cartoons, toys, animals, or people, and flavors will be further regulated by the DHEC.
Role of Local Municipalities: Local municipalities will have the ability to regulate the location, hours, and amount of medical cannabis businesses allowed. Municipalities also have the option to prohibit the sale or operation of medical cannabis businesses.
Legal Protections: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (S. 150) protects registered patients, caregivers, medical cannabis establishment staff, state-chartered banks, attorneys, accountants, pharmacists, and doctors from arrest, prosecution, or penalties for actions allowed by the bill. Qualified patients may apply to designate a caregiver with the DHEC to assist them with the medical use of cannabis. Medical cannabis users and caregivers will be protected from discrimination in child care custody disputes and eligibility for organ transplants. Medical cannabis patients will not be protected from private employers who have the option to continue to test employees for cannabis, and fire those who test positive.
Taxation and Fees: There will be registration and application fees for both medical cannabis patient cardholders, and medical cannabis businesses. Cannabis will be taxed by the DHEC at 6%, the same as non-prescription medications. Local municipalities may also impose a tax on the sale of medicinal cannabis. Taxation on medical cannabis must sufficiently cover State regulatory costs. Revenue that exceeds the regulatory costs will be distributed as follows: 3% to research and training to improve detection of impaired driving; 10% to alcohol and drug abuse prevention, education, early intervention, and treatment; 5% to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED); 5% to medicinal cannabis research; 2% to drug and safety education; and 75% to the General Fund.
Expiration: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (S. 150) will expire at the end of 2028 unless the legislature votes to re-enact the law.
DOES SOUTH CAROLINA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
Yes — South Carolina's hemp program is managed by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE SOUTH CAROLINA CANNABIS MARKET?
Though the application process for medical facilities is currently unknown, it’s always advantageous to stay ahead of the curve! Point7 has the resources and knowledge needed to ensure any applicant is prepared and stands out to application reviewers. Email today to schedule a call with a dedicated Point7 team member.