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A Majority Of South Carolinians Support Marijuana Legalization

A new poll finds that the winds have shifted in favor of some form of cannabis legalization in the highly conservative state.



According to a new Winthrop University poll, over 78% of South Carolina adults, including a majority of Republicans, support the legalization of medical marijuana in the state. The survey also found that 54% favor adult-use cannabis in the Palmetto State.


The poll was conducted in the lead-up to this month’s just concluded midterm elections. Concerning implementing a medical marijuana program in the state, significant majorities from both parties backed some form of a plan, with 82% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans saying they would like to see medicinal cannabis legalized.


Regarding legalizing recreational marijuana, there was a more significant gap in support, with 67% of Democrats favoring reform, compared to just 39% of Republicans.


Scott Huffmon, Director of the Winthrop Poll, explains, “Support for medical marijuana has been growing in South Carolina with sizable majorities from both parties favoring it. (However), while a bit more than half showed support for legalizing recreational marijuana, there was a sharp partisan divide.”


"Support for medical marijuana has been growing in South Carolina with sizable majorities from both parties favoring it. (However), while a bit more than half showed support for legalizing recreational marijuana, there was a sharp partisan divide.”

- Scott Huffmon, Director of the Winthrop Poll


The survey took place between October 22nd and November 8th and included interviews with 1,298 registered South Carolina voters and has a +/-2.8 percentage point margin of error.


Earlier this year, a medical cannabis bill, introduced by Republican State Senator Tom Davis, passed the South Carolina State Senate but was shot down in the House over a technical procedural challenge. Following the defeat, Davis remarked that his party’s stance on medical marijuana is “an intellectually lazy position that does not even try to present medical facts as they currently exist.”


The issue even made its way into the gubernatorial race between the incumbent Republican Governor Henry McMaster and his Democratic challenger Joe Cunningham. The progressive-minded Cunningham came out in support of both medical and recreational marijuana during his campaign. Ultimately, he lost to McMaster, who used his opponent’s support of cannabis reform to dissuade voters against selecting Cunningham as their new governor.


Cunningham also lost his congressional re-election campaign in 2020 to now-Rep. Nancy Mace (R), who, ironically, strongly supported cannabis legalization and introduced a bill to end federal prohibition last year.


Proving that this issue is quickly evolving past petty partisan politics and the hypocritical thinking of the wretched “War on Drugs” rhetoric, in a recent interview, Mace shared, “We had one of the most conservative medical cannabis bills in the country get shut down on a technicality, and they need to bring it back for a vote, and that needs to pass. That would be my recommendation for the state legislature. You’re on the wrong side of history if you continue to block responsible reforms like state Senator Tom Davis’s Compassionate Care Act.”


"We had one of the most conservative medical cannabis bills in the country get shut down on a technicality, and they need to bring it back for a vote, and that needs to pass. That would be my recommendation for the state legislature. You’re on the wrong side of history if you continue to block responsible reforms like state Senator Tom Davis’s Compassionate Care Act.”

- Rep. Nancy Mace (SC-R)


As for McMaster and other hardline South Carolina Republicans, their stance remains staunchly against any cannabis-related reform, despite the overwhelming support for at least the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the Sandlapper State. Moreover, he has consistently remained non-commital to any past legislative initiatives, as witnessed by his decision not to endorse his fellow Republican Tom Davis’ bill earlier this year.


Despite that setback, however, it is clear that revolutionary change is on the way in South Carolina. As one of only four remaining states in the country where marijuana is still completely illegal and not de-criminalized, getting any cannabis legalization would be a remarkable shift for a state that considers itself the “Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt.”


Old-school politicians with a foot firmly still planted in the propaganda of the past are going to have to face the fact that more and more Americans no longer view marijuana as a source of societal decay or criminality but rather as a legitimate and necessary health and wellness alternative for those suffering from chronic pain, mental health crises and unimaginable end of life issues. The seeds of change have thankfully been planted in this author’s home state. Let’s hope they bear a bountiful harvest for the generous, unique and hospitable citizens of South Carolina.


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