CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham is calling on Governor Henry McMaster to change his position on medical marijuana.
Cunningham is urging Gov. McMaster to support the state legislature’s medical marijuana bill in hopes it will pass before the end of the regular session next month.
“Henry McMaster has stood in the way of a medical marijuana bill from day one of his administration. He has consistently used fear tactics and myths from the 1950s to justify his blind opposition to this life-saving medical care,” said Cunningham.
Governor McMaster, though, has not publicly said he was for or against medical marijuana legislation in the state. McMaster has noted in the past that he will be on board with whatever law enforcement favors.
While Cunningham believes this bill is a baby step, it’s one he said is a step in the right direction in helping people with immediate needs that could be assisted by medical cannabis.
“It will save lives and bring comfort to thousands of South Carolinians. I wished this bill went further – much further – but part of governing is knowing when to compromise and not let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” he said.
Cunningham said if the bill is passed, a new conversation can begin on the economic, social, and moral reasons why South Carolina should move to full legalization of marijuana.
“Legalization would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue that can be spent on raising teacher pay, improving our schools, and fixing our roads,” he said, “It would provide life-changing medical care for countless South Carolinians battling with PTSD, epilepsy, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.”
He said South Carolina would also be able to expunge records of anyone convicted of a low-level non-violent marijuana offense and be a step in the right direction when it comes to social justice.
“If you’re Black, you’re four times more likely to get arrested for marijuana than if you’re white, even though the rates of use are the same,” said Cunningham ahead of an April 20 event in Charleston.
State Representative JA Moore recently filed a bill that would pardon 20% of South Carolinians who have been convicted of simple marijuana possession on April 20th of every year.
“Possession of marijuana is a nonviolent offense and it’s a crime that has been enforced unjustly since its inception,” Moore said earlier this month. “We need to force a conversation on this issue and that is the intention of my bill.”
Cunningham last summer released a plan to “safely end the marijuana prohibition” in South Carolina for recreational and medical use and has been advocating for legalization on the campaign trail.
A move to allow medical marijuana in the Palmetto State was approved by the South Carolina Senate this year, it is awaiting discussion in the House.
Gov. McMaster has not signaled whether he would sign or veto the medical marijuana legislation should it reach his desk.