Last Update: May 26, 2015
Medical marijuana legislation advances in House, debated in Senate
The South Carolina Legislature has finally taken up debate on legislation to create a medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State! Committees in both the House and Senate have met to discuss the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act (H 4037/S 672). If you live in South Carolina, please email your lawmakers in support of this compassionate proposal.
Sponsored by Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act would allow patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors. Like the Put Patients First Act introduced earlier this session, this bill is more comprehensive than and addresses the many flaws of the legislation passed last year in an attempt to make certain medical marijuana products accessible to a limited class of patients.
In addition to medical marijuana, lawmakers in South Carolina also have the opportunity to replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine instead. Republican Rep. Mike Pitts introduced legislation, H. 3117, to make possession of one ounce or less punishable by a civil fine of $100-200 and prohibit law enforcement from arresting the offender.
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 [email protected].
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Marijuana laws in South Carolina
In 2012, marijuana possession arrests (as opposed to arrests for manufacture or sales) accounted for 88% of all marijuana-related arrests in South Carolina. Unfortunately, these arrests affect minority communities in South Carolina most harshly. According to the ACLU, black South Carolinians are almost three times as likely to be arrested as their white neighbors, despite similar use rates. These arrests are made at the expense of preventing and solving violent and property crimes. It is time that South Carolina reform its 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 by supporting H. 3117 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 protected] 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.