Cassie Cope

The Buzz: Democratic candidate suggests SC legalize pot to help pay for schools

thebuzz@thestate.comMay 3, 2014 

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S.C. superintendent of education candidate Sheila Gallagher called Saturday for legalizing marijuana as she addressed fellow Democrats at the state party’s convention in Columbia.

Gallagher of Florence said whether to legalize marijuana should be put to a vote. If pot becomes legal, the tax revenue gained could go toward the state’s education system, she said.

“It isn’t about getting high,” Gallagher said.

The money gained from legalizing marijuana produces millions for schools, she said, adding teacher pay raises should be a top priority.

Gallagher was one of the four Democratic superintendent candidates who addressed the convention.

Mattie Thomas, with the Florence County Democratic Party, supports the idea of legalizing marijuana, pointing to other states that are making money.

“It’s lighting up in Colorado,” Thomas said.

While Gallagher wants voters to decide on the full legalization of marijuana, Democratic lawmakers have been focusing on legalizing medical marijuana.

“(Full) legalization is not even on our radar right now,” said Tyler Jones, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford of Richland County introduced medical marijuana legislation last month. But the bill did not cross over to the Senate by the May 1 deadline so it is dead for the year.

Rutherford will introduce his bill again in January with the start of a new session, Jones said.

Democratic voters can weigh in on their thoughts on legalizing medical marijuana on the June 10 Democratic Primary ballot, which has an advisory question on the issue.

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