Senate committee rejects medical marijuana legislation, focus turns to House


Last update: September 6, 2016


Medical marijuana


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.

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Pending Legislation