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South Carolina Lawmakers Weigh Medical Marijuana Legalization

Legislators in South Carolina are reportedly considering joining multiple other states in legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana. As The State reports, a Senate committee has recently been assessing whether to make marijuana available as a treatment for specific medical conditions. If this proposal succeeds, it could offer significant benefits to people living with various ailments in Greenville and other parts of the state.

Proposed legal changes

At present, the only form of medical marijuana that is permitted in South Carolina is cannabidiol oil. Furthermore, this treatment is only available to people who suffer from certain seizure disorders. The new bill would make the medicinal use of marijuana an option for people afflicted with other approved conditions. Some supporters believe the passage of this legislation could also eventually lead to the full legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The legalization of medical marijuana could benefit many South Carolina residents. According to Business Insider, marijuana has been shown to help prevent or treat glaucoma, control seizures from epileptic conditions and relieve pain associated with various chronic ailments. Medical marijuana may also help relieve conditions such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, at present, people who could benefit from medicinally using marijuana in South Carolina could also face serious legal consequences for doing so.

Current legal penalties

Under the South Carolina Code of Laws, marijuana and various derivatives, including resin, belong to the Schedule 1 category of drugs. As a result, charges involving marijuana possession and distribution can bring the following grave penalties:

  • Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor that can be sanctioned with up to 30 days in prison and fines ranging from $100 to $200.
  • A second-time charge of possession of less than one ounce is a misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year of incarceration and $2,000 in fines.
  • Cultivation or distribution of marijuana is a felony, and a conviction can result in up to five years of imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines.
  • A second-time offense of cultivation or distribution can be punished with up to 15 years of incarceration and maximum fine of $10,000.
  • A third-time cultivation or distribution offense can result in five to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines.

Additionally, people who stand accused of cultivating or distributing more than 10 pounds of marijuana could face charges of trafficking. This can be prosecuted as a state or federal criminal offense, and it can bring even more severe consequences as a result.

Crafting a defensive strategy

Under current state laws, it is crucial for anyone facing marijuana-related charges in South Carolina to appreciate the serious potential consequences and consider securing legal assistance. An attorney may be able to help a person seek a less punitive outcome or identify a strategy for challenging these serious charges.