9-year-old Sophia has autism and is non-verbal. Her parents say she has good days and bad days. During the bad days, her parents become overwhelmed because Sophia becomes violent, hurts herself, and others.
Sophia's mother, Stacy Guarneri, says, "The other day we were sitting in the kitchen and out of nowhere he heard this slap, she slapped me. She will bite my arm, and latch on to me. Her hands are permanently scabbed and this thick from scar tissue from biting herself."
Sophia's parents have tried more than a dozen different medications and more than $200,000 of medical treatments.
Stacy says, "They just don't work. Maybe the first couple weeks you will be all excited, but after the time of about 3-4 weeks it all goes back."
They say they can't go on vacation, or even leave Sophia with a babysitter because her condition is so severe.
Sophia's father, Joseph Guarneri, says, "It's been pretty hopeless for the last few years now."
Stacy says, "It's been hopeless. Him and I have been very, very down."
Joseph adds, "You know, I love Sophia and I'm glad I have her, but being an autism dad and mom it's rough."
The Guarneri family says the bill in front of South Carolina legislators could improve their lives as a whole. It would legalize marijuana for "debilitating medical conditions" that range from cancer, to PTSD, to autism. Stacy says cannabis has been proven to make a world of a difference in kids like Sophia in states where it's legal.
She says, "I think we're really good parents. I know we put 300% into her and we've tried, we've looked into resources. We're not just saying, lets do this. This is what is known to work."
They say their lives would completely change if the bill passes.
Stacy says, "It will mean maybe we can do things, maybe we could go on vacation again. We just want a normal life. That's all we're looking for."
One group that has opposed the legalization of medical marijuana in the past is the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). They have expressed concerns about how it will be regulated, worried it could end up being used recreationally. News 2 called SLED for a statement today, and they said they are still reviewing the current bill and have not formed an official opinion at this time.
The bill had the first reading in front of the State Senate on Tuesday and was referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.