South Carolina adjourns for the year; medical marijuana legislation still pending
Last update: June 8, 2015
The South Carolina Legislature has adjourned for 2015, but not before it finally began to take a serious look at legislation to create a medical marijuana program in the Palmetto State! Committees in both the House and Senate discussed the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act (H 4037/S 672), which will be waiting for them when they reconvene in 2016. If you live in South Carolina, please email your lawmakers in support of this compassionate proposal.
Sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, 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 also introduced this year, 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.
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 — which was introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Pitts. This bill will also be live when the legislature reconvenes in 2016. It would make possession of one ounce or less punishable by a civil fine of $100-200 and prohibit law enforcement from arresting the offender. Or ask your lawmakers 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.