The once-resistant south seems to be loosening its thinking on marijuana legalization, with a lot of southern states looking to find ways to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana. The latest effort comes out of South Carolina, where the state’s House presented a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
According to an article in wbtw.com, instead of being arrested and facing possible jail time, someone caught with one ounce or less of marijuana would be given a ticket to appear in civil court. The fine for a first offense would be at least $100 but no more than $200. The fine for a second offense would be at least $200 but no more than $1,000.
Republican state Representative Mike Pitts is the sponsor of the bill and also a retired police officer. He says, “As a law enforcement officer, the biggest thing that I see is a person can be arrested for a small amount, a half-a-joint, for instance; criminal record stays there forever unless they have it expunged. I never once had to fight a pothead. I never once had to chase a pothead. They just did not create problems. The only problems they created were for themselves.”
Rep. Pitts says it’s important to remember that his bill would not legalize marijuana and it would still be against the law to have it, saying, “It’s not something I would recommend doing, but it’s not something that should be a criminal offense that hangs over a person’s head for a lifetime.”
State lawmakers go into session January 12.