Joe Cunningham — the erstwhile one-term Democratic congressman present moving to unseat South Carolina Republican Gov. Henry McMaster — is pushing for medicinal and recreational legalization of marijuana, changes helium says would connection wellness attraction options and rotation disconnected millions successful taxation gross for authorities coffers.
“This is going to beryllium a crippled changer successful South Carolina,” Cunningham told The Associated Press past week, respective days up of Monday's authoritative rollout of his marijuana plan. “There are truthful galore reasons wherefore we request to bash this, and the clip is now.”
To Cunningham, legalization solves aggregate problems: freeing up constabulary to absorption connected convulsive criminals, providing a wellness attraction alternate for those who are terminally oregon chronically ill, and generating millions for a authorities helium says is “dead last” successful areas wherever backing has been a struggle, similar acquisition and wellness care.
He would besides expunge transgression records for low-level marijuana-related crimes, giving a 2nd accidental to radical “whose lives person been ruined implicit a container of marijuana,” Cunningham said.
It would beryllium a pugnacious task, though, successful South Carolina, wherever the bureau of politician holds constricted law power, and the GOP holds a ace bulk successful some legislative chambers. A Democrat hasn’t won the Governor's Mansion successful much than 2 decades, truthful Cunningham would not lone person to triumph implicit Republicans astatine the ballot box, but besides successful the authorities Legislature wherever — contempt years of statement — lawmakers person lone passed 1 marijuana-related bill, allowing prescriptions for products with CBD, a hemp constituent that unsocial does not origin a “high.”
Cunningham, 39, was primed to go 1 of the Democratic Party's rising stars aft 2018, erstwhile helium became the archetypal successful decades to flip a South Carolina legislature spot from reddish to blue. Two years later, helium narrowly mislaid the 1st Congressional District to Republican Nancy Mace connected an predetermination nighttime that amounted to GOP wins crossed South Carolina, aided successful nary tiny portion by Donald Trump s sanction atop ballots successful a authorities wherever his popularity has stayed high.
But it's that 2018 triumph to which Cunningham points erstwhile asked however helium plans to triumph some the governorship and lawmakers' bargain in, saying that he's been the underdog earlier — and that his stance is buoyed by nationalist opinion, citing anecdotal enactment from his run stops astir the state.
“This is thing the radical want,” Cunningham said. “If our politicians aren’t reflecting the volition of the people, past we person to alteration retired the politicians, starting with Governor McMaster.”
Surveys successful caller years person besides shown expanding enactment for medicinal marijuana successful South Carolina. It's portion of a nationalist softening connected the issue, adjacent successful different blimpish states, with legalization measures cruising to triumph past twelvemonth successful states crossed the governmental spectrum.
“People are down it, and politicians request to get down it, too,” said Cunningham, who says helium has utilized marijuana successful the past and voted for a marijuana decriminalization measure a period earlier departing the U.S. House.
During legislative debates connected marijuana, authorities including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, the state’s apical instrumentality enforcement officer, person testified against legalization, arguing that marijuana remains federally prohibited. Saying dozens of states person already acted connected legalization, Cunningham said that his program would assistance Keel bash his occupation by freeing up officers to absorption connected much superior criminals.
“His occupation is to enforce the law,” Cunningham said. “And what we’re going to beryllium doing is changing the instrumentality to prioritize wherever those resources are spent.”
Still astir a twelvemonth retired from South Carolina's gubernatorial primaries, Cunningham is making his lawsuit alongside 2 different Democrats successful the contention frankincense far. State Sen. Mia McLeod launched her ain bid earlier this year, telling the AP she wasn't acrophobic to spar with chap Democrats. Activist Gary Votour has besides filed paperwork to run.
Last week, Cunningham announced that he'd raised $634,000 successful the 2 months since his launch, a caller grounds for a South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial challenger successful their debut fundraising quarter. According to online filings, McLeod brought successful $104,000 since her motorboat past month.
On marijuana, Cunningham acknowledged the complexity of the contented but said his connection is simply a mode to instrumentality vantage of what helium sees arsenic an inevitable question of alteration crossed the country.
“It’s wealth we’re passing up,” Cunningham said. “I’m not going to beryllium the politician who sits connected his hands.”
Meg Kinnard tin beryllium reached astatine http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.