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Do Your Job, Mark Keel




By FITSNEWS || Years ago this website supported the nomination of Mark Keel as head of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).  We’d dealt with Keel in the past and viewed him as a straight shooter, a guy who would play things by the book and resist political encroachment on this core function of government.

Unfortunately, Keel has failed in his role as the Palmetto State’s top cop.

According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), South Carolina has the highest rate of crime of any state in the nation.  The Palmetto State’s total crime rate was 4,381 per 100,000 citizens – well above the national average of 3,098.  Violent crimes are also more prevalent in the Palmetto State, which saw 558.8 such incidents per 100,000 citizens – also well above the national rate of 367.9.

In other words your life, liberty and property is far less safe and secure in South Carolina than it is in any other state in the nation.

So if Keel hasn’t been doing his job (and these numbers make it abundantly clear he hasn’t), what is he up to?

Well, his agency has been actively (and hypocritically) protecting state government’s monopoly on gambling.  That’s the racket enabling “leaders” like S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley to rail against the evils of gambling (while denying thousands of private sector jobs associated with the industry) – even as they run a scandalous racket of their own.

Now Keel is cracking down on the baby steps taken in the Palmetto State when it comes to decriminalizing marijuana.

Specifically, the SLED chief has launched a vendetta against the exceedingly limited medical marijuana law passed by South Carolina last year at the urging of S.C. Sen. Tom Davis.  This legislation – a small step in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana for medical purposes – was passed to provide relief to patients suffering from specific ailments.

And it’s working …

South Carolinians suffering from specific types of seizures are getting the relief they need – further proof that cannabis has real medicinal value.  Also, Davis’ legislation has prompted other lawmakers to introduce broader medical marijuana bills – so that more South Carolinians can get the help they need.

Of course the legalization of pot isn’t a medical issue to us, it’s a liberty issue … which is why we have consistently argued that the state should decriminalize all drugs for medicinal and recreational use.

Keel?  He and other leaders are questioning whether the law signed by South Carolina is even valid – arguing that federal law supersedes state law on this issue.   Meanwhile, we’ve heard reports his agency is working behind the scenes to sabotage hearings Davis is holding on the expansion of medical marijuana laws.  Specifically, we’ve been informed by multiple sources that SLED’s representative on Davis’ medical marijuana committee – toxicologist Wendy Bell – has been “making snide and dismissive remarks about those testifying” on behalf of legalization.

Interesting …

First of all, South Carolina’s law – like the broader legalization bills passed in Colorado and Washington State – is perfectly valid.

“The General Assembly did not … condition the legality of a person’s possession or consumption of cannabis oil in South Carolina on the federal government taking action to address marijuana’s legal status,” Davis wrote by way of responding to Keel.

“As a matter of state policy, such federal action is not required,” Davis added.

He’s correct …

Keel’s job is to enforce state law, not look for ways to undermine it.  We’re not sure what’s motivating his assault on the state’s nascent medical marijuana movement, but it needs to stop … and Keel needs to start doing his job.

More broadly speaking, South Carolina needs to start fully embracing market-based reforms … not continue looking for ways to kill them in the crib.