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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is required to procure medical grade marijuana and distribute it to Palmetto State residents with glaucoma and other “chronic ailments” – or at least that’s what an obscure 1980 state statute uncovered this week by FITS maintains.

Amazing, huh?

Unfortunately for potheads, SCDHEC doesn’t seem “down” with the notion of becoming a taxpayer-subsidized drug dealer.

According to a fiscal impact report prepared by the agency – and obtained exclusively by FITS – there are some staggering costs associated with operating a government-run drug ring. How staggering? Nearly half a billion dollars a year ($474,540,698, to be exact).

And that’s apparently a lowball figure …

“Please note the half a billion dollar fiscal impact … is a minimum and if additional populations are covered, which is contemplated under the statute, the cost will rise accordingly,” the agency document noted. “Please also note that there is a federal criminal penalty for administering this statute.”

Damn …

(Click to play)

Bummer …

FITS uncovered the medical marijuana statute this week. In fact we located it shortly before S.C. minority leader Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) announced his support for a government-run pot farming, harvesting and distribution operation aimed at helping residents who suffer from a broad range of ailments.

We love the bud (obviously)  – but reject Rutherford’s approach.

“We oppose any unnecessary government intervention in the free market – especially a portion of the market it is unnecessarily criminalizing,” we wrote. “South Carolina should absolutely ‘spread love with the bud,’ but that process should not be regulated (and certainly shouldn’t be controlled) by government.”

Sources tell FITS Rutherford is working on a separate piece of pot legislation which may be more to our liking, though … so we’ll stay tuned for that.

SCDHEC FISCAL IMPACT REPORT (.pdf)

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