South Carolina lawmaker pushes to decriminalize marijuana

State - Regional

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA)- Current state law classifies possession of any quantity of marijuana as a criminal offense, but a Spartanburg lawmaker is hoping to change that statue.

Representative Rosalyn Henderson Myers prefiled a bill earlier this month to decriminalize marijuana. The former prosecutor tuned into her legal background to identify problems with the state’s current law.

“There are often situations when a person is in a wrong place or wrong time and going through a point in their life,” explained Rep. Henderson Myers.

The bill reduces the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a civil citation. Representative Henderson Myers believes the change will bring a positive impact.

“​I see so many people who are not able to get jobs, it can be a deterrent to getting student loans, it can be a deterrent to get affordable housing.”

But law enforcement has concerns that the proposal would expand access to a drug officers are already fighting on the streets. Sheriff Steve Mueller says simple possession cases are not the ones taking up space in county jails. However, the Cherokee County sheriff thinks the proposal would expand access to the drug and ultimately create more problems.

“They’ve already took away the penalties where your license was suspended for possession of marijuana. This is just further eroding that effort to make it ok for everyone to have marijuana. I for one am not for that.”

Sheriff Mueller added that South Carolina courts already have intervention programs in place to help an offender remove a criminal charge from his/her record.

Representative Henderson Myers fears that background will hinder offenders from having a second chance.

According to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, since 2016 more than 1000 people have been arrested for simple possession.

The proposal would require those cited for possession to pay a $100 fine. It also includes possession of small amounts of hash.

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