It appears that adults in South Carolina are backing legal medical cannabis, and the majority also support recreational use, according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted by Winthrop University, involved interviews with 1,657 South Carolina adults from March 25-April 1. In addition to cannabis, the poll established favorability ratings of politicians and asked residents their opinions about a number of other topics, including legal sports gambling, Christianity in America and LGBTQ issues.
South Carolina Residents Support Legal Cannabis
The survey found that 76% of South Carolina adults are in favor of legal medical cannabis. The two primary political parties generally agreed on the topic, with 80% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans in support.
“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 Huffmon said in a university news release.
The two parties are a bit more divided when it comes to recreational cannabis, but the majority (56%) of the general population supports its legalization. Republicans are split, 45-45%, while 62% Democrats are in favor of adult-use legalization. The overall support increased by two percentage points compared to the 2022 Winthrop University poll.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), sponsor of the States Reform Act which pushed for federal cannabis legalization last congress, spoke up about the results on Twitter.
“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,” she wrote. “Wish they’d asked about women’s issues and gun violence – maybe next time.”
A Missed Opportunity for Medical Cannabis
South Carolina has yet to legalize medical or recreational weed, and the results come following a pivotal time for the state when it comes to cannabis. The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act aimed to legalize medical cannabis, but it died last year in the House. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, reintroduced the bill this year, but it’s still awaiting debate on the Senate floor, where it passed last year in a 28-15 vote.
The bill would legalize medical cannabis for patients with specific qualifying conditions, but smoking would be prohibited, along with possession of plant forms of cannabis. Medical products like topicals, oils and vapes would be produced by regulated suppliers and patients would be limited to purchasing a two-week supply of cannabis at one time.
A vote to give the legislation priority for a Senate floor debate also failed earlier in March. South Carolina veterans and advocates pleaded to senators to debate the bill so it had a better chance of becoming law this year, WSPA reported on March 28.
“South Carolina wants this. This should have been done years ago,” said Cody Callarman, Marine veteran and founder of the CBD company Carolina Dream, during a press conference at the State House that week. “If they want to continue to war on cannabis, that’s fine. But can we at least get the sick, dying, and ill off the battlefield?”
However, the bill needed to pass the Senate by March 30 to be enacted this year. The legislation could still advance this session, though it would require supermajority support in the legislature.
Most recently, the bill advanced through the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in February.
In order to gain approval of conservative lawmakers, Davis has admitted that the bill would create one of the most strict medical cannabis programs. While House members debated the legislation last year, David said that the bill is designed to prevent recreational cannabis.
“I want people to look at South Carolina’s law and say, ‘If you want a law that helps patients and empowers doctors but doesn’t go down the slope to recreational, this is your bill,’” he told his colleagues in the House.