An attorney in Myrtle Beach wants to write a law that would decriminalize cannabis in the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

Jonny McCoy is the man who served as attorney for Julian Betton, a man who was shot nine times by police during a drug raid in Myrtle Beach in 2015. Now, McCoy wants the city to decriminalize cannabis so something like this doesn’t happen again. 

“In South Carolina, if you get stopped and you get arrested and you have 28 grams of marijuana on you, you go to jail. My office is right here and we’re filled to the brim with clients who’ve been arrested for simple possession of marijuana,” McCoy said.

McCoy’s proposal would decriminalize cannabis just within city limits. Simple possession wouldn’t carry with it a serious criminal punishment, and this would hopefully decrease incidents like the one that left Betton wounded. Although Betton received $11.25 million in a settlement with the state, he is still permanently disabled from the accident. 

“In my mind, you go to jail, you pay a bond and you get out. If you can pay the bond. But in this instance, you would get a ticket, and get out,” said Gregg Smith of Myrtle Beach City Council, who has seen the proposal. “To me, it’s something worth looking at. I don’t know if it’s the right answer, but it’s something worth looking at.”  

This proposal would replace the current $200 fine and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense to $100 in fines or the option to complete 10 hours of community service instead of paying. 

Currently, South Carolina has some of the strictest cannabis legislation in the country. They have medical cannabis that allows extremely low levels of CBD, mostly just legalizing CBD treatment for some patients. They have yet to expand their medical program to be more in line with most other states in the country or introduce a legal, recreational system. 

This is an important move because, like many other victims of violence from the police over drug charges, Betton is Black. In light of the activism surrounding the recent murder of George Floyd, this would be timely legislation in terms of racial justice and cannabis activism.

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