Legislature recesses with progress on medical cannabis bills

 

Last update: October 10, 2017

 

Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy’s twin medical cannabis bills — the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (S 212/ H 3521) — gained significant momentum before the legislature recessed for the year. In January 2018, when the legislature meets for the second half of its two-year legislative session, the bills will pick up where they left off.

Please ask your lawmakers to support this compassionate legislation, which would allow seriously ill patients with debilitating medical conditions to obtain state ID cards that allow them to access medical cannabis from a state regulated dispensary.

On February 21, 2017, after a public hearing, a subcommittee of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee voted 3-0 to send the bill on to the full committee. The committee met to discuss the bill but did not advance it to the full House before the legislature recessed.

Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee held two hearings, one focused on medical professionals — the overwhelmingly majority of which were supportive, the other on law enforcement. Subcommittee chair Sen. Daniel Verdin was considering additional hearings but has expressed his intent to the send the bill on to the full committee for its consideration.

While it is disappointing that no law was passed this year, we are well-positioned going into 2018. During the break, we will be working with local advocates to mobilize more support for next year. If you would like to get involved, please contact Compassionate S.C.


Decriminalization

 

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.

Thankfully, South Carolina lawmakers are starting to realize that it’s time to reform the state’s criminal penalties for marijuana possession to free up the necessary time and money to go after violent criminals who cause true havoc in our communities. Rep. Mike Pitts introduced H. 3117, which would have made possession of one ounce or less punishable by a civil fine of $100-200 and would not carry an arrest. While this legislation did not receive a floor vote during the 2015-2016 session, it’s important your legislators hear you support this sensible step forward.

Currently, 22 states — including North Carolina and Mississippi — have removed jail time as a possible penalty for marijuana possession.

For more information on South Carolina’s marijuana arrests, usage, and other related data, please see Jon Gettman, Ph.D.’s report.


Take action!

 

Speak out:

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.