COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says he's still opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana, a stance he was asked about again after a political rival's statement this week.
McMaster was asked by a reporter this week about legalizing pot after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham announced he's in favor of legalizing all forms of marijuana.
"I don't think that's a good idea," McMaster said. "It's not helpful."
Cunningham said this week legalizing marijuana would offer health care options and spin off millions in tax revenue. He said he would also expunge criminal records for low-level marijuana-related crimes.
Cunningham says there's support for legalization in South Carolina and that his plan would shore up the state’s finances by taking advantage of what he sees as an inevitable wave of change across the country.
His Democratic opponent, Mia McLeod, said she's been working to pass a medical marijuana bill and one that would eliminate penalties for low level drug offenders.
But the South Carolina Republican Party blasted the idea of legalizing either form of marijuana. "We stand with law enforcement, that weed should not be legalized," the statement read in part.
McMaster, however, didn't commit to maintaining the restrictions on medical marijuana. "That's a different story and there may be some answers there," he said. "I know there's a lot of suffering that is helped with medical marijuana.
In recent years there have been bipartisan attempts at the State House to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes, but they've failed several times. Law enforcement in particular has lobbied to keep the drug in its current status.
McMaster said he wants to see more evidence from other states on how it has been implemented there.
"I think we need to be very careful and use common sense," he said.