South Carolina Legislature in session
The South Carolina Legislature is currently in session in Columbia, so if you live in the Palmetto State, please take a moment to contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a medical marijuana bill. Roughly a third of the county now live in jurisdictions that protect the seriously ill from arrest and prosecution for using marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have compassionate laws, and many more states are seriously considering passing legislation as well.
This wouldn’t be the first time South Carolina lawmakers considered the issue. In 2007, Sen. William Mescher (R-Berkley Co.) introduced S. 220, a compassionate bill that would have allowed patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe pain, and other serious illnesses to use marijuana with their doctors' approvals. Sen. Mescher seemed like an unlikely sponsor of medical marijuana to many people. However, his sponsorship demonstrated the fact that treating suffering is not a partisan issue. Sadly, Sen. Mescher died of a stroke on April 8, 2007, and none of his colleagues in the Senate have been willing to carry the bill. Perhaps a compassionate senator or representative will take up the charge this session?
In order to move forward with marijuana policy reform, there needs to be an open discussion about the issue throughout the state. If you are interested in getting more involved and are a person with a serious illness, doctor, nurse, clergy member, Ph.D., lawyer, or other influential member of your community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. Please pass this information on so that even more voices for reform can be heard. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in South Carolina, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.
Marijuana Laws in South Carolina
In 2007, marijuana possession arrests (as opposed to arrests for manufacture or sales) accounted for 91% of all marijuana-related arrests in South Carolina. Additionally, South Carolina arrested six out of every 100 marijuana users in 2007, ranking the Palmetto State number one in the U.S. for arresting marijuana users. With 91% of those arrested merely for possessing a plant, this is not a ranking you want your law enforcement to lead the county in, especially with so many violent crimes going unsolved. In 2007, the clearance rate for rape in South Carolina was a mere 37.8%; the clearance rate for robbery was 25.8%! With six in 10 rapes going unsolved and three-quarters of all robberies left unpunished, should the hard work and dedication of South Carolina law enforcement be spent on arresting, prosecuting, and jailing individuals who commit the non-violent offense of marijuana possession? We think not. It is time that South Carolina reform their criminal penalties for marijuana possession to free up the necessary time and money to go after the violent criminals who cause true havoc in our communities.
You can email your legislators to ask them to change the penalty for marijuana possession to a simple fine or to ask them to end marijuana prohibition completely in South Carolina. If you’d like to volunteer or if you are someone with a special connection to the issue — such as a clergy member or current or past member of law enforcement — please email email@example.com to see how you can be of special help.
For more information on South Carolina’s marijuana arrests, usage, and other related data, please see Jon Gettman, Ph.D.’s report.