SC’s McMaster opposes recreational marijuana. Medical use a ‘different story,’ he says


S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said he is opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, one day after one of his possible Democratic challengers said he would be in favor of it.

McMaster told reporters Tuesday he doesn’t think legal recreational marijuana, which is allowed in 18 states and Washington D.C., “is a good idea.”

However, the governor said the legalization of medical marijuana is “a little bit different story.”

“There is a lot of suffering that is treatable …. with medical marijuana,” the governor said.

McMaster stopped short of endorsing the legalization of medical marijuana in South Carolina. He pointed out that several members of the law enforcement community within the state still oppose any marijuana legalization, including Chief Mark Keel of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

McMaster said the state needs to carefully study what other states have done in regard to the legalization of medical marijuana. Currently, 37 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

“I think we need to be very careful and use common sense,” McMaster said.

Medical marijuana is set to be considered by lawmakers during next year’s legislative session. A proposal put forward by Republican Sen. Tom Davis, of Beaufort County, would allow for the licensed cultivation and sale of medical cannabis, and a similar bill was filed in the House by Rep. Bill Herbkersman, a fellow Beaufort Republican.

On Monday, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Joe Cunningham, a former U.S. representative, released a proposal supporting the legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use.

Cunningham said his proposal would be a “game changer” in the medical community and would also allow law enforcement and the courts to spend more time focusing on violent crimes instead of prosecuting people for possession of marijuana.

Another Democratic challenger, Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is a cosponsor of the medical marijuana bill set to be considered in the Senate next year. She has called herself a “fierce advocate” of the legislation.

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