March 21, 2023

South Carolina voters on medical marijuana

GOP Voters Want Medical Cannabis Legalized In South Carolina, New Poll Finds


According to a recent survey, most Republicans and more than three out of four adults in South Carolina support the legalization of medical marijuana. A slightly smaller percentage in the state also supports the legalization of recreational cannabis use.


The latest survey findings were released months after a medical marijuana measure in South Carolina passed the Senate but failed to advance in the House of Representatives.


The South Carolina House of Representatives managed to end seven years of attempts to adopt what was considered the most stringent medical cannabis law in the nation in May, ending the most recent attempt to enact legislative reform. Lawmakers rejected the proposal based on a sales tax technicality.


Finally, according to South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, It’s time for our state to move forward with medical marijuana legalization. Nancy Mace is a strong proponent of the reform. She also pushed forward her legalization bill, the States Reform Act (SRA), in 2021. The reform is supported by the “vast majority of South Carolinians,” she added.


According to a Republican state representative, those who oppose the reform are “on the wrong side of history.”

Results of the Winthrop Poll

54 percent of Americans support the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, according to the Winthrop Poll, which was conducted before this month’s midterm elections. However, 78 percent of individuals support the legalization of cannabis for medical use.


In the debate over medicinal marijuana, a large majority of both major parties support the reform, with 71 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats in favour. When it came to the legalization of adult usage, there was a wider gap, with Democrats supporting the change in policy to a greater extent (67%) than Republicans (only 39%).


Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop Poll, states, “support for medical marijuana has been expanding in South Carolina, with significant majorities from both parties approving it.” However, there was a stark party gap, even though slightly more than half of the respondents supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use.


To achieve this result, the poll was carried out between October 22 and November 8, and 1,298 registered South Carolina adults participated in interviews for the survey. The vote is said to have a +/-2.8 percentage point margin of error.


Impact of Cannabis Legalization on South Carolina Politics

The legalization of marijuana impacted the South Carolina governor’s race, as incumbent Henry McMaster (R) defeated former Democratic congressman Joe Cunningham to win the election. Because Cunningham supported marijuana legalization, McMaster tried to convince voters not to help him. Cunningham also lost his bid for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2020 to now-Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who is a major proponent of legalizing marijuana and put out legislation to do so last year.


It’s time for our state to go forward with medical marijuana legalization, Mace said in an interview with Marijuana Moment last week. She added that the “overwhelming majority of South Carolinians” support the reform.


Drew McKissick, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, expressed objection to Cunningham’s proposal to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use and claimed that the Democratic candidate was “playing with fire” by endorsing the idea.


But interestingly, a Republican lawmaker from South Carolina defended Cunningham last year. At the time, Rep. Tom Davis (R) argued that the attitude of his own party was “intellectually lazy” and “doesn’t even bother to provide proven facts as they exist” about medical cannabis.


A medicinal cannabis legalization initiative Davis sponsored earlier this year passed the state Senate with broad bipartisan support. Still, it was blocked in the House due to a procedural issue. Later, he attempted a different route for reform, but it failed.


“One of the most conservative medical marijuana proposals in the nation was defeated on a technicality; it needs to be brought back for a vote and pass. That would be my suggestion to the state legislators, Mace said last week to Marijuana Moment. If you oppose sensible changes like state senator Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Act, you’re on the wrong side of history.


According to a previous survey conducted in February, South Carolina voters favour medicinal marijuana legalization five to one.


For his part, McMaster has repeatedly been against legalizing marijuana for adult use, calling it “a horrible idea” that isn’t “healthy” in 2017. And while the vast majority of his party agrees that patients should have access to medical cannabis, the governor has been ambivalent regarding other ideas, failing to support Davis’s measure earlier this year.


If the legislation reached his desk, he said he would need to carefully consider “a lot of things” before deciding whether to support it or oppose it.


The Present State of Cannabis Legalization in South Carolina


South Carolina is one of just 13 states that prohibit the use of marijuana. However, some state officials and doctors continue to advocate for the legalization of medicinal marijuana. They claim it can be a better treatment for patients suffering from severe conditions than some pharmaceutical drugs.


In South Carolina, marijuana is not legal. Recreational use is not permitted. Low-THC/high-CBD oil is lawful, but farmers and processors must get licensing and permits.


Medical cannabis with no more than 0.9% THC is acceptable for patients with a few epileptic disorders who have not improved as a result of conventional therapy.


South Carolina’s marijuana punishments are relatively harsh:



  • A first-time conviction for recreational use is also a misdemeanour, with consequences ranging from one year in prison to a $2,000 fine.







In 2018, South Carolina had the second-highest number of marijuana arrests in the country, with 34,229 arrests.




The legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in South Carolina is slow going. This is because changing the legislation necessitates a legislative act, which is held once a year. It may meet more than once a year to discuss specific legislation. And more importantly, the state lacks a ballot initiative process, hence the slow process. However, the positive is that cannabis acceptance continues to grow in the state, and sooner than later, full legalization will take place in South Carolina.





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