The (Charleston) Post Office and Courier. November 2, 2021.
Editorial: You don’t have to be a stoner to endorse SC hemp; In fact, it’s best not to be
We’ve talked a lot about cannabis at the national and state levels over the past few years, but there are actually three or four separate debates. And, as we were reminded by a recent mail and courier report on the troubled hemp industry in South Carolina, this should be remembered by those hoping to attract converts to their election.
At the forefront of the controversy is the legalization of recreational marijuana use, which 18 states have done despite breaking federal law. Although former US MP Joe Cunningham suggested this as part of his campaign for governorship, even most South Carolina Democrats seem reluctant to embrace the idea, and most Republicans strongly oppose it.
A related, lesser-understood idea is to decriminalize marijuana – that is, keep it illegal but treat your possessions like a parking ticket, which would make marijuana arrests less of a priority. This could reduce prison costs and racial disparities in policing, giving it broader, but still limited, support.
An unrelated idea – or one that shouldn’t be related – is the medicinal uses of marijuana. So far, 38 states have approved medical marijuana, which studies show can relieve chronic pain prescription drugs can’t touch, without the dangerous side effects of opioids.
Whatever you think of medical marijuana – and our editorial team supports it – it continues to meet significant opposition from law enforcement in South Carolina and many doctors. They believe medical marijuana would make it harder for police to fight illegal marijuana use, and doctors would feel pressured to prescribe a drug that doesn’t have FDA approval.
That doesn’t mean supporters should give up, but it does mean that people whose main interest is growing hemp should steer clear of this issue – and further from the decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana.
Which brings us to a non-controversial use of cannabis: growing hemp, which has been touted for years as a substitute for tobacco and other fading plants – one way to support South Carolina’s ailing agriculture.
Within months of Congress lifting restrictions on hemp production and use in 2018, our legislature expanded the state’s experimental hemp cultivation program, and more than 200 farmers now have licenses to grow hemp.
But like hemp growers in other states, most are focused on the booming retail market for cannabidiol, or CBD, which is oversaturating the market. To make matters worse, as one of many efforts to help police distinguish legal hemp from illegal marijuana, lawmakers have banned farmers from selling hemp flowers, which are used for smoking and in the manufacture of most CBD products, to stores in the USA for sale state. The result, as reported by The Post and Courier’s Jerrel Floyd, is that hemp farmers are wasting product while CBD stores and other retail stores sell processed hemp from other states.
The hemp industry struggles are worrying, not because hemp is an important crop – at least not yet – but because preserving South Carolina’s agricultural heritage has great social, environmental, and economic value.
Farmers should have recognized the state restrictions before getting into the business, but now that we have a number of farmers who better understand the practical implications of our state laws, lawmakers should work with them, the Department of Agriculture, and law enforcement agencies, to find a way to relax the restrictions. Cannabis advocates hoping to convince lawmakers should stop talking about recreational or even medicinal marijuana when making their point. In fact, they should do whatever it takes to separate these issues in the minds of lawmakers – and everyone.
And instead of focusing so much on the shiny object, the oversaturated CBD market, hemp farmers should open up new markets for hemp fibers and grains, such as its potential uses in rope, clothing, mulch, building materials, paper, and fuels. The state Ministry of Agriculture could and should grow from this.
The (Greenwood) Index Journal. November 2, 2021.
Editorial: It’s all about the numbers
What’s in a number?
A matter of perspective, we guess, but when it comes to this damn coronavirus the numbers are pretty amazing.
By Monday, COVID-19 had claimed more than 5 million lives worldwide. Almost 12,000 of these are in South Carolina. This number may seem tiny to some, but we suspect that it is a profoundly meaningful number for the families of those 12,000.
Five million may seem like a small number compared to the total population of our globe. Again, however, it is likely a painful number for their families and friends.
In South Carolina, we still need to reach 60% of the population who are fully vaccinated. Self Regional Medical serves a multi-county area in and around Greenwood County. For several weeks now, we’ve been publishing the hospital’s numbers twice a week, which reflect how many patients are being treated for COVID-19, how many are fully or not fully (if at all) vaccinated, how many are in intensive care and how many are on a ventilator. The twice-weekly reports also show the mean age of those vaccinated and those not fully vaccinated.
The numbers are once again very informative. You are significant. Report after report suggests what we think should be obvious, which is that vaccinations work. Week after week, the numbers show that much older people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to be in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator. On the other hand, the unvaccinated or those who are not fully vaccinated have a much lower average age but are more likely to be in the hospital intensive care unit or on a ventilator.
We like the numbers 1, 2, and 3. Get the first syringe, get the second, and if your doctor recommends, get the third syringe, the booster.
What’s in a number? A lot.
The (Orangeburg) Times and the Democrat. November 2, 2021.
Editorial: Scott Plan Can Help Retirees Filling Positions
The Republican US Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina campaigns for old-age security for Americans.
Senior Senate Specialist Committee on Aging, Scott, released a report Thursday entitled “The American Dream in Our Golden Years: Enhancing Retirement Security and Building Independence”. It examines current trends and gaps in the pension system.
“After 25 years in the insurance and financial services industries, I understand that we don’t talk enough about the importance of retirement planning,” said Scott.
“(A) The key area my report examines is the complicated and confusing rules seniors are subject to when deciding when to get social security. This rule, known as the Retirement Earnings Test, or RET, confuses retirees and hinders work because it is viewed as a tax. That’s why I introduced the Seniors’ Freedom of Work Act of 2021 today to abolish the RET and simplify the decision-making process for seniors, “said Scott.
Scott has been working too long by Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL.
Although Americans can receive benefits by the age of 62, many do not or cannot because they have to or want to keep working. But social security punishes people who have not yet reached their “full retirement age”.
In 2021, if you have not reached retirement age, the annual earnings limit is $ 18,960. If you reach full retirement age in 2021, the income limit for the months leading up to full retirement age is $ 50,520.
For any income that exceeds the limits, Social Security will keep $ 1 for every $ 2 earned.
Many people who are still working can do the math and see that there is no tax logic in accepting social security benefits because they are all withheld because of RET. And those on social security benefits before full retirement have little or no incentive to work.
Although lost benefits are replaced at full retirement age, many seniors are unaware that their benefits are being replaced and therefore choose not to work or work fewer hours to stay below the threshold.
With all the back-and-forth in Washington about how to raise money for programs favored by the Democratic majority, the prospect of adoption of the Scott-Rubio proposal is uncertain at best. But it would help many retirees and the economy as much as anything currently on the table.
Other suggestions are:
– Extension of lifelong income opportunities for retirees.
– Codification of auto portability regulations to prevent leakage.
– Plan for flexibility in benefit spending to increase retirement options.
– Expansion and strengthening of health savings accounts.
– Protection of the gig economy.
– Support from golden entrepreneurs.
Scott says he looks forward to “discussing reforms and more so we can ensure that all Americans have the tools to retire with dignity and independence in their golden years.”
Hopefully the discussions these days will be more productive than many in Washington.