A strong majority of South Carolina adults support legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, according to a new poll that’s being promoted by a Republican congresswoman from the state.
The survey from Winthrop University—which comes as state lawmakers work to advance medical cannabis legalization—found that three in four adults (76 percent) back the reform, including 80 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans.
Support for adult-use marijuana legalization stands at 56 percent, with 62 percent of Democrats in support. GOP South Carolina voters were evenly split on the issue, 45-45 percent. Overall support increased by two percentage points compared to Winthrop’s last poll on the issue that was released late last year.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who sponsored a federal legalization bill last Congress, took notice of the cannabis findings.
Interesting findings re cannabis and gay marriage supported by the majority of people in South Carolina. Not as controversial as some would have you to believe. This tells me our state loves freedom.
Wish they’d asked about women’s issues and gun violence – maybe next time. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/zGiiiK0yAw
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) April 12, 2023
“Not as controversial as some would have you to believe,” she wrote on Wednesday, noting the poll’s findings on cannabis and marriage equality. “This tells me our state loves freedom.”
The survey involved interviews with 1,657 South Carolina adults from March 25-April 1, with a +/-2.41 percentage point margin of error.
“Support for medical marijuana in South Carolina has steadily grown over the years, especially as other states have moved towards legalization without an apparent collapse of society,” Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon said in a press release.
The findings come amid a concerted push by advocates and certain bipartisan lawmakers to enact a medical cannabis legalization bill from Sen. Tom Davis (R)—an effort that’s now complicated by the fact that it did not clear the Senate by a crossover deadline this month.
It’s still possible that the legislation could advance this session, but it would require supermajority support in the legislature. More likely it will remain alive for the second half of the two-year session in 2024.
The bill most recently advanced through the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in February, and an earlier version last session cleared the full Senate last session only to stall in the House over a procedural hiccup.
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Marijuana reform also played a role in the South Carolina gubernatorial race last year, which saw incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster (R) retain his seat over challenger Joe Cunningham, a former Democratic congressman.
McMaster attempted to dissuade voters from electing Cunningham, in part because of his opponent’s support for marijuana legalization.
After Cunningham came out with a plan to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick voiced opposition and said the Democratic candidate wants to “play with fire” by embracing the policy change. But notably, Davis came to Cunningham’s defense in 2021.
Davis said at the time that his own party’s stance, particularly as it concerns medical cannabis, is “an intellectually lazy position that doesn’t even try to present medical facts as they currently exist.”
After Davis’s Senate-passed medical cannabis bill was blocked in the House last year, he tried another avenue for the reform proposal, but that similarly failed on procedural grounds.
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