COLUMBIA, S.C. – The right action for South Carolina on marijuana is decriminalization. It should no longer be a crime to grow, possess, sell, buy, or use cannabis. The General Assembly should remove all statutes from state law that enact prohibition and penalties for cannabis, hemp, marijuana, and THC products.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” said Lieutenant Governor candidate Jessica Ethridge, “No agency at the State, Federal, or any other level of government should be able to dictate what an individual can or cannot consume. Additionally, there is no reason that we should still be having any discussion about the decriminalization of cannabis, much less its use in clinical settings or for medicinal use.”
South Carolina should join the 31 other states and the District of Columbia in decriminalizing cannabis. Instead, cannabis has become a political flag in our state. Neither side is serious about taking action. Democratic Candidate for Governor Joe Cunningham claimed intent to legalize marijuana and tax it to help the South Carolina economy. In examples like South Carolina’s Compassionate Care Act, legalization would generate layers of additional regulation, bureaucracy, and meddlesome government overreach. Legalization doesn’t trust citizens to make their own decisions, it invites the government further inside your medicine cabinet.
Under Governor Henry McMaster’s administration, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture has so tightly restricted hemp cultivation that farmer Trent Pendarvis of Dorchester County had his farm raided and a $2M crop destroyed by SLED, even after Pendarvis got permission to plant and grow the crop (source). The McMaster administration is quick to redirect cannabis agriculture conversations while turning a blind eye to SLED officers trampling on citizens’ constitutional rights. But then personal morality crusades are what this administration does best.
The best solution to the costly enforcement of an archaic prohibition is decriminalization. The best option for building a new agribusiness economy through cannabis is decriminalization. The best way to relieve law enforcement from arresting citizens for victimless crimes is decriminalization.
“A free person doesn’t require permission from their government to put whatever they want into their own body or grow a crop,” said SCLP Chair Casey Crowe. “If you don’t own your own body, then who does?”
Revise the existing laws that prohibit cannabis. Here’s a full list of South Carolina’s prohibition on cannabis. Revise all of them. Remove prohibition, remove penalties, cease enforcement, and stop using this issue for election purposes. Cannabis is not now, nor should it have ever been, any business of the government, elected or otherwise.