Although the state’s House and Senate committees had approved MMJ legislation earlier this year, the bills never advanced to a vote on the floor of either chamber until now.
Prior to Tuesday’s primary elections, former U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles reportedly pushed both major parties to place medical cannabis on their primary ballots, but only Democrats agreed and the results were unequivocal.
According to the state election results, about 82 percent of Democratic primary voters, around 200,255 people, voted yes on the following question:
"Do you support passing a state law allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients?"
“The strong support for the question adds to growing pressure on state lawmakers to change the law to allow people to use cannabis in accordance with physician recommendations without fear of being arrested,” writes Tom Angell in Forbes.
Although the vote reflects only Democratic voters, public support for medical marijuana in South Carolina is high. A statewide poll released in January by the Independent Mail found that South Carolina voters favor legalizing cannabis 61% to 31%.
Advocates now hope that Tuesday’s passage of the measure will encourage lawmakers to push MMJ bills next session and hope to get the Republicans, who control the legislature, to get involved.
Ask by the Charleston City Paper whether Tuesday’s vote will help move the needle in terms of marijuana reform in South Carolina, Executive Director of Lowcountry NORML, Scott Weldon said “Absolutely. I can assure you that state lawmakers want to know where their constituents stand with regard to supporting marijuana law reforms before they will have the confidence to take action. I'm certain the results from [Tuesday's] election will be the catalyst for future conversation about this issue.”