Even conservative Republican voters in South Carolina want medical marijuana legalized, a new voter poll says

GOP voters want medical cannabis legalized in South Carolina, a new poll shows

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

The latest poll results came months after a medical marijuana measure in South Carolina passed the Senate but failed to advance in the House of Representatives.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives in May managed to end seven years of attempts to pass what is the nation’s toughest medicinal cannabis law, ending a recent attempt at legislative reform. Legislators rejected the proposal due to a sales tax formality.

Finally, according to South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, it’s time for our state to move forward with legalizing medical marijuana. Nancy Mace is a strong supporter of the reform. She also pushed ahead with 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 official, opponents of the reform are “on the wrong side of history.”

Results of the Winthrop survey

According to the Winthrop poll, conducted ahead of this month’s midterm elections, 54 percent of Americans support legalizing cannabis for recreational use. However, 78 percent of people support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

In the medical marijuana debate, a large majority of the two major parties support the reform, with 71 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats in favor. There was a larger gap in legalizing adult use, with Democrats supporting the policy change to a greater extent (67%) than Republicans (only 39%).

Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop poll, states, “Support for medical marijuana has increased in South Carolina, with both parties voting in favor of it by substantial majorities.” However, there was a strong rift between the parties, although just over half of respondents supported the legalization of recreational marijuana.

To achieve this result, the survey was conducted between October 22 and November 8, and 1,298 registered South Carolina adults participated in interviews for the survey. The vote should have an error rate of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Impact of cannabis legalization on South Carolina politics

Marijuana legalization 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 the current MP. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who is a big supporter of legalizing marijuana and passed legislation on it last year.

It’s about time our state moved ahead with legalizing medical marijuana, Mace said in an interview with Marijuana Moment last week. She added that the “overwhelming majority of South Carolinians” supported the reform.

South Carolina Republican Party leader Drew McKissick has objected to Cunningham’s proposal to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use, claiming the Democratic nominee is “playing with fire” by endorsing the idea.

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

A medical cannabis legalization initiative that Davis sponsored earlier this year passed the state Senate with broad bipartisan support. Nevertheless, it was blocked in the house due to a procedural problem. He later tried another path of reform, but failed.

“One of the most conservative medical marijuana proposals in the nation was rejected on technical grounds; it must be brought back for voting and acceptance. That would be my proposal to the state legislature,” Mace told Marijuana Moment last week. If you oppose sensible changes like Senator Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Act, you’re on the wrong side of history.

South Carolina voters are five to one in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, according to a previous poll conducted in February.

For his part, McMaster has repeatedly opposed the legalization of marijuana for adult use, calling it “a terrible idea” that is not “healthy” in 2017. And while the vast majority of his party agrees that patients should have access to medicinal cannabis, the governor has been ambivalent about other ideas and failed to support Davis’ measure earlier this year.

If the law were to reach his desk, he would have to consider “many things” carefully before deciding whether to support or oppose it.

The current status of cannabis legalization in South Carolina

South Carolina is one of only 13 states that ban the use of marijuana. However, some state officials and physicians continue to advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana. They claim that it can be a better treatment for patients with serious illnesses than some pharmaceutical drugs.

Marijuana is illegal in South Carolina. Recreational use is not permitted. Low THC, high CBD oil is legal, but farmers and processors must obtain licenses and permits.

Medicinal cannabis with no more than 0.9% THC is acceptable for patients with some epileptic disorders that have not improved with conventional therapy.

Penalties for marijuana in South Carolina are relatively harsh:

  • A first-time conviction for recreational use is also a misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from a 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.


Legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in South Carolina has been slow. Because a change in the law requires a legislative act that takes place once a year. It may meet more than once a year to discuss specific legislation. More importantly, the state lacks a voting process, hence the slow process. However, the positive is that cannabis acceptance in the state continues to grow and full legalization in South Carolina will happen sooner or later.




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