Senate committee rejects medical marijuana legislation, focus turns to House
Last update: September 6, 2016
During the 2015-2016 legislative session, the House Health and Environmental Affairs subcommittee of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act (H 4037) by a 3-1 vote. On April 7, 2016, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee rejected the Senate companion bill, S 672, by a vote of 9-2. For a summary of S 672, click here. Unfortunately, the bill received no further consideration before the session adjournment.
Sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act would have allowed patients suffering from a listed condition to use and safely access medical marijuana if recommended by their doctors.
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.
Currently, 21 states have replaced the penalty for marijuana possession with a civil penalty. In South Carolina, Rep. Mike Pitts introduced H. 3117, legislation that would have made possession of one ounce or less punishable by a civil fine of $100-200 and prohibit law enforcement from arresting the offender. This legislation did not receive a floor vote during the 2015-2016 session.
For more information on South Carolina’s marijuana arrests, usage, and other related data, please see Jon Gettman, Ph.D.’s report.
- If you live in South Carolina, please email your lawmakers in support of compassionate comprehensive medical marijuana legislation.
- Ask your legislators to support common sense penalties for marijuana possession.
- Urge your lawmakers to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system to tax and regulate marijuana in South Carolina.
Contact us: 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] and be sure to include your address or zip code.
Stay connected: To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in South Carolina, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.