“Weed is good. Weed is right. Weed works,” said Dorchester County Sheriff B.D. Squire, spokesman for the group.
The event marks a turnaround for the state’s law enforcement officers who have counted on weed-related fines and confiscated drug money to fund their militaristic uniforms and ‘SWAT’ like attitude towards the state’s marijuana users and sellers. The officials would like to see South Carolina enact legislation to legalize and tax weed and corner the southeastern market in a way similar to the way Georgia’s lottery siphoned valuable revenue from the state’s coffers and in a way similar that our lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax brings customers all the way from the northeast.
Democratic and Republican leaders from the general assembly are intrigued by the idea.
“This is perhaps one of the no-brainers in terms of bringing us back to fiscal health,” said Hugh Leatherman, the senate finance chairman.
“There was a half-million dollar bust a couple weeks ago in Berkely County,” said state Agriculture Secretary Hugh Weathers, “if that pot was taxed at anything near the rate of tobacco… well that would be about $500 million straight into the state coffers. Can you imagine what kind of income we’d pull in if it was planted on proper farms and not just in little patches in the woods? We wouldn’t be having a ‘stimulus’ debate because we wouldn’t need the money.”
“The effects of this would be enormous,” said University of South Carolina Economics Professor Lester Nestman. “Obviously tax revenue would be huge, but we’d likely also see a surge in tourism all over the state, you’d have all manner of stores springing up at every border crossing, and I can’t even imagine how popular farmers’ markets would become. On a related note, just the mention of this possibility has caused an overnight jump of 38% in undergraduate applications to the university.”
Reactions in the business community were mixed. Cigarette executives were outwardly dismissive of the idea, but a source at RJ Reynolds speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the company was actively looking for land to build a Marijuana packaging facility outside of Latta, near the North Carolina border.
Gregg Propps, a Charleston-area distributor for Little Debbies brand snacks was less reserved in his response.
“Are you kidding me? Holy crap, this is awesome. This is going to put my kids through college… but maybe I’ll send them to school in another state.”