Attorney drafts bill to decriminalize marijuana in Myrtle Beach

Updated: Jun. 3, 2020 at 8:03 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The attorney representing Julian Betton, a man shot at 9 times by police during a drug raid several years ago, is pushing to decriminalize the use of marijuana within the city of Myrtle Beach.

Jonny McCoy said if marijuana was decriminalized years ago, Betton would still be able to walk today.

“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.

So now, McCoy is working on a proposal that wouldn’t legalize the drug in the city of Myrtle Beach but instead would lessen the criminal punishments for simple possession.

McCoy said he’s drafted an ordinance based on what other cities across the country have done.

“And they’ve said, 'Look, let’s just write them a ticket,” McCoy explained.

He said it’ll take pressure off the judicial system as well as on officers.

Myrtle Beach City Councilmember Gregg Smith has read the draft and said he’d like to learn more about it.

“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. 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,” Smith said.

However, Smith doesn't know if the city can make these changes.

“I don’t even know if this is something the city of Myrtle Beach is legally authorized to do. But I’m open at looking at it to see if it’s something that could make Myrtle Beach better," Smith said.

McCoy’s proposal would replace a $200 fine or up to 30 days in jail for a first offense of simple possession to a fine of $100 or the option to complete 10 community service hours instead.

There would still be punishments for those who fail to pay the fines.

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