SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A South Carolina bill that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes is one step closer to becoming law after it passed a house of Representatives subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.
The bill would allow physicians to recommend the medical use of marijuana also known as cannabis under certain conditions.
A family in Summerville says if the bill becomes law it could significantly improve their child's life.
Stacey and Joseph Guarneri are the parents of nine-year-old Sophia. Her parents describe her as playful, active and honest. She has severe autism and is non-verbal.
"We tried just about everything you could try to help Sophia from medications to a doctor in Texas to doctor's in Florida to controversial things," Guarneri said.
Times can get tough.
"Around Christmas she was attacking us, attacking the people at school biting and hitting she had just become so violent both us had a point that we didn't know how we were going to keep her at home and it's heartbreaking when it's your child," Stacey said. "The thought of that is just unbearable to do and we love her we don't want to give up."
Their hope is that marijuana will become legal for medical purposes in South Carolina. They believe it can help Sophia because it's helped improve the lives of others with similar behavior.
Stacey and Joseph say moving to another state where it's legalized is not an option like some families have done. Joseph is a firefighter and they have a support system with family locally.
They just moved into a new home they built in area with the purpose of being next door to two other family member's homes where they can all help with Sophia's needs.
Law enforcement are the biggest opponents of legalizing medical marijuana, fearing it will open the door to wrongful use.
What most people don't see is that the Guarneri lifestyle is different.
Sophia's dolls have to be in the same place every night before she goes to sleep. They have a special play room to help with her sensory processing issues with special lighting in addition to an array of other activities.
The family also has inside locks on doors throughout the house so she can't leave the house.
"So many children with autism die each year," Stacey said.
The family has new found hope after watching today's hearing online and seeing the testimonies at the statehouse. Stacey says it seems that more people are supportive this time around.
"Why are opioids prescribed out so freely and we don't see that as a taboo," Stacey said.
The medical marijuana bill has a ways to go before it become law.