The History of Marijuana in South Carolina

South Carolina has a history with marijuana that dates back before the 1980s, when the state outlawed all forms of the drug. At the same time, a number of states began implementing the first medical marijuana laws, starting with New Mexico in 1978. South Carolina, along with 32 other states, followed by enacting such laws, but they became difficult to enforce because marijuana is and was not recognized as medicine under federal law.

The marijuana ban didn’t stop South Carolina producers from growing illegally though, because farmer Michael Berry went to extreme lengths to protect his marijuana farm, by training a pit bull. His dog Willy was tied to the inside of a six foot enclosed fence, to discourage access to the marijuana farm, though he didn’t scare off Berry’s two year old neighbor, because the child wandered over to the farm where the dog eventually attacked. Berry was convicted and sentenced to jail, and the number of arrests only continued to increase in the state because by 2000, South Carolina achieved the country’s highest marijuana arrest rate. The state is moving forward though, because South Carolina legalized a form of medical marijuana for select patients in 2014, and state lawmakers are still pushing for further legalization.

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