By Robert Capecchi, Marijuana Policy Project
CHARLESTON, SC — A bipartisan group of South Carolina state representatives led by House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford has introduced compassionate legislation that would establish a workable medical marijuana program in South Carolina.
Under House Bill 3140, the “Put Patients First Act”, seriously ill patients would be able to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It also creates a system of registered medical marijuana providers to ensure patients have safe and reliable access.
Last year, South Carolina lawmakers approved a restrictive medical marijuana bill to allow CBD-based medications, but did not provide a system for patients to access medication.
According to a July 2014 poll by ABC News 4/Post and Courier, most South Carolina voters support allowing qualifying seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana legally, instead of being treated as criminals. Support was found across party lines, age, race, sex, ideology, and geography. It’s clear now more than ever: South Carolina should enact a workable medical marijuana program.
Additionally, South Carolina lawmakers are proving that sensible and humane marijuana policy isn’t a partisan issue. State Representative Mike Pitts — a Republican — has not only cosponsored House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford’s medical marijuana bill, he’s also introduced his own common-sense proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession.
House Bill 3117 would replace South Carolina’s criminal penalty for marijuana possession of up to one ounce of marijuana with a simple civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.