If a South Carolina lawmaker has his way, the state will celebrate the 4/20 cannabis holiday by issuing pardons for marijuana-related convictions.
Rep. JA Moore (D) filed legislation – dubbed the ‘420 Day’ bill – that would compel the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to issue pardons to a minimum of 20 percent of people who’ve fulfilled their sentencing requirements for low-level cannabis possession on April 20 every year.
The text of the measure – H.7614 – makes clear the pardons would only apply to offenses of “simple possession of marijuana and not to other unrelated convictions.”
It now awaits a review from the House Judiciary Committee.
“Possession of marijuana is a nonviolent offense and it’s a crime that has been enforced unjustly since its inception,” Moore said in announcing his bill. “We need to force a conversation on this issue and that is the intention of my bill.”
Moore’s proposal closely follows the Senate and a House committee’s approval of a bill to legalize medical cannabis in the state. It’s now set for a full floor vote in the House.
The measure – S. 150 – would permit patients with a qualifying condition to possess and purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. Smokable forms of marijuana and home cultivation of the plant for medical purposes would remain illegal, while even possessing cannabis in its plant form would be considered a misdemeanor.
Medical marijuana legalization has strong voter support in South Carolina across party lines, with one poll suggesting three in four Republican primary voters in the state are in favor. Unfortunately, unlike many states that have legalized cannabis, South Carolina does not have a citizen-led ballot initiative process that could help get the policy change into law.
Moore’s ‘420 Day’ bill concerns serious criminal justice reform of South Carolina’s marijuana laws and, like many other lawmakers across the country, he used the unofficial cannabis holiday as a platform to push for marijuana-related change.