Legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has majority support in South Carolina, according to a poll

More than three in four South Carolina adults, including a majority of Republicans, support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a new poll. And a narrower majority in the state also supports legalizing adult use.

The new poll results come months after a medical cannabis bill passed the South Carolina Senate, only to be stalled in the House of Representatives. A GOP congresswoman from the state recently told Marijuana Moment that lawmakers blocking reform are “on the wrong side of history.”

The Winthrop poll, conducted ahead of this month’s midterm elections, showed that 78 percent of adults want medical cannabis legalized, while 54 percent support legalization for recreational use.

On the medical marijuana issue, strong majorities in the two major parties support the reform, with 82 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans on board.

There was a wider gap in legalizing adult use, with a majority of Democrats (67 percent) supporting the policy change compared to just 39 percent of Republicans.

“Support for medical marijuana has increased in South Carolina, with significant bipartisan majorities in favor,” said Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop poll. “While just over half supported legalizing recreational marijuana, there was a sharp divide between the parties.”

The survey included interviews with 1,298 registered South Carolina adults from October 22 to November 8 with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Marijuana reform also played a role in South Carolina’s gubernatorial election, in which incumbent governor Henry McMaster (R) retained his seat ahead of challenger Joe Cunningham, a former Democratic congressman.

McMaster tried to dissuade voters from voting for Cunningham, in part because of his opponent’s support for marijuana legalization.

Cunningham was unseated by the current MP in his 2020 congressional re-election race. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who is a strong supporter of cannabis legalization and introduced legislation last year to end prohibition.

In an interview with Marijuana Moment last week, Mace commented on South Carolina’s cannabis policy, saying “it’s time for our state to make strides” with legalizing medical marijuana and that the “vast majority of South Carolina residents” support the reform supported.

After Cunningham put out a plan to legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick voiced opposition, saying the Democratic nominee wanted to “play with fire” by accepting the policy change .

But in particular, a South Carolina GOP lawmaker came to Cunningham’s defense last year.

MP Tom Davis (R) said at the time that his own party’s stance, particularly on medicinal cannabis, “is an intellectually lazy position that doesn’t even attempt to present medical facts as they currently exist”.

Davis sponsored a medical marijuana legalization bill earlier this year that was largely bipartisan approved by the state Senate, but it was killed in the House of Representatives after a procedural challenge. He later tried a different route for the reform proposal, but that also failed.

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“We had one of the most conservative medicinal cannabis bills in the country that got shut down on technicalities and they have to bring it back to the vote and that has to pass. That would be my recommendation to the state legislature,” Mace told Marijuana Moment last week. “You are on the wrong side of history if you continue to block responsible reforms like Senator Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Act.”

A previous poll released in February found that South Carolina voters support legalizing medicinal cannabis five to one.

For his part, McMaster has consistently opposed the legalization of adult marijuana, calling it “a bad idea” that isn’t “healthy” in 2017. And while the vast majority of his party agrees on allowing patients access to medical cannabis, the governor has been non-committal to previous proposals, declining to back Davis’ bill earlier this year, for example.

He said his support or opposition would “depend on many things” that he would need to review when the legislation arrived on his desk.

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