(NaturalNews) Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws in recent years decriminalizing marijuana for medical use, but not a single state in the Southeast is yet included among these. However, that could soon change, as activists from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) recently held rallies across South Carolina at state congressional offices and the capitol building to call for an end to marijuana prohibition in the Palmetto State.
As reported by MidlandsConnect.com, members and supporters of NORML's Columbia, South Carolina, chapter protested the state's continued intolerance of all-natural cannabis, which is now legal for recreational use in both Washington and Colorado. Even the federal government appears to be moving towards acceptance of cannabis, as indicated by a recent announcement from the Department of Justice that the agency intends to mind its own business, at least for the most part, concerning individual state laws on the issue.
With nothing to stand in the way, perhaps besides pockets of entrenched prejudice against marijuana and corrupt leadership, advocates of marijuana decriminalization believe that now is the time to seek real reform in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast. After all, a little-known law passed back in 1980, known as the South Carolina Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980, already legalized marijuana, at least for medical use. But the state never followed through in actually implementing it.
"Columbia NORML is striving to make legislative change in the state of South Carolina regarding the laws governing cannabis," explains the group's mission statement.
South Carolina to be first Southeastern state to legalize marijuana, advocates hope
In an interview with MidlandsConnect, the president of Columbia NORML explained that marijuana legalization in South Carolina is definitely possible, especially if a proposed federal bill becomes law. This bill provisions that state health departments, rather than law enforcement, be tasked with researching and classifying narcotics as they see fit.
"Just today, the justice department actually decided not to enforce federal marijuana laws against Colorado and Washington that adopted those laws," stated Professor Collin Miller from the University of South Carolina School of law to MidlandsConnect.com. "So that could change the thinking in the state legislature."
Efforts earlier this year by Representative Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina failed after an amendment he introduced to the state's controlled substances act was ruled "out of order." But with momentum building all across the country in favor of legalization, it is only a matter of time before this irrational policy of prohibition is finally lifted.
"Right now, you can get oxycodone ... one of the most powerful drugs made. You can get that with a doctor's prescription, but you can't get marijuana? It doesn't make any sense," stated Rep. Rutherford to WBTW News recently. "For those people that are out there and in pain, for those people that are in desperate need of help, I'm going to do whatever I can to try to make it a better law in South Carolina, since it's already legal."
To get involved with the mission and work of NORML in your own state, or to join or launch a local chapter, visit: http://norml.org