JOE'S PLAN TO END THE PROHIBITION AND CRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA
1. LEGALIZE MARIJUANA FOR MEDICAL AND RECREATIONAL USE
Allow Law Enforcement to Spend More Resources on Violent Crime
South Carolina is currently faced with the highest murder rate in our state's history. Legalizing marijuana will make South Carolina communities safer by freeing up law enforcement resources and time to combat violent crime and help curb our state's murder rate.
Save Taxpayer Money
South Carolina has the second-highest arrest rate for marijuana offenses in the country. In 2016, SC spent an estimated $47.4 million dollars on legal costs related to cannabis alone. Legalizing cannabis will save taxpayers’ money by lowering administrative costs and legal costs of prosecuting marijuana cases.
Provide Critical Medical Care and Curb Opioid Abuse
Legalizing marijuana for medical use can help South Carolinians suffering from chronic and debilitating illnesses, including seizures, chemotherapy-induced side effects, chronic pain, and PTSD. It can also help reduce dependence on opioids. In states that have legalized cannabis, opioid use dropped by as much as one million doses per day.
Veterans consume cannabis at a higher rate than the general population, yet they are viewed as criminals in the eyes of the government for whom they put their lives on the line to defend. According to the American Legion, nearly 1 in 4 veterans reported using cannabis specifically “to treat a mental or physical condition.”
End the Racial Disparities in Marijuana Enforcement
Marijuana laws have disproportionately targeted people of color. Black South Carolinians are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white South Carolinians, even though they use marijuana at similar rates.
2. RAISE REVENUE THROUGH LEGALIZATION AND RESPONSIBLE REGULATION
Tax legal marijuana to generate new state revenue
States that have legalized marijuana have seen significant growth in tax revenue. For example, Oregon, a state with a slightly smaller population than South Carolina, brought in over $133 million in revenue from marijuana just in 2020.
Legalizing marijuana would generate tens of millions in new tax revenue. And there are several ways we could consider deploying it, including providing critical funding to fix our roads, expand Medicaid, give our hardworking teachers the pay they deserve, or even substantially cut taxes on South Carolina families - all without raising taxes.
Regulate marijuana like we regulate alcohol
Put in place robust guidelines for how marijuana is grown, sold, and consumed using similar guidelines that already exist for alcohol consumption. These can include limits on grower or dispensary locations and limits on public consumption.
3. OFFER SOUTH CAROLINIANS A SECOND CHANCE
Expunge the criminal records of people with low-level marijuana convictions and provide them with a second chance at life
A marijuana conviction can prevent someone from getting a job, going to college, getting approved for housing, or taking out a loan. This leads to less opportunity, more poverty, more crime, and more reliance on the government.
Legalizing marijuana will provide thousands of South Carolinians with a second chance at having a productive life.
4. CREATE JOBS AND GIVE LOCAL FARMERS A BOOST
Legalizing marijuana would boost our state’s economy and create new jobs for in-state farmers and entrepreneurs
South Carolina farmers should be at the front of the line to be able to grow and harvest marijuana.
We will work to maximize opportunities for Black farmers who have lost their land and allow them to build generational wealth through the cannabis industry.