A South Carolina bill prefiled for the 2015 legislative session would eliminate the possibility of arrest and criminal prosecution for low-level cannabis possession in the state.
House Bill 3117 (HB3117) aims to alter established law enforcement priorities in the state of South Carolina. Already co-sponsored by Reps. Michael Pitts (R-Laurens), J. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), Deborah Long (R-Lancaster) and Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg), this bipartisan legislation will be considered in the state house next year.
If enacted, HB3117 would change the South Carolina code to state that possession of "twenty-eight grams or one ounce or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish may be issued a citation and must be fined not less than one hundred dollars" for first time offenses.
For subsequent offenses, HB3117 mandates that "a person must be issued a citation and must be fined not less than two hundred dollars and not more than one thousand dollars. A person issued a citation must not be taken into custody or arrested for such violation."
Although the passage of HB3117 would not mean an immediate end to the war on marijuana, it is still a great step in the right direction. A state like South Carolina passing a law to decriminalize simple possession could be a game changer. It may lead to further measures to relax marijuana laws in the state, and could start the trend of more red states embracing the cannabis revolution.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. Full-blown legalization is on its way whether the prohibitionists like it or not. Measures like HB3117 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of South Carolina, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to co-sponsor this important bill. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB3117 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.