On Oct. 16, 2018, at a debate in Charleston, S.C., candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives — the seat currently filled by former Gov. Mark Sanford — took a question on cannabis reform from Diana Snellgrove, a senior at Charleston Southern University.

Spoiler alert: The candidates — Katie Arrington (R) and Joe Cunningham (D) — (mostly) agreed.

Given that South Carolina seems close to passing the Compassionate Care Act, it’s not surprising that the candidates agree.

What is surprising, though, is that the Democrat is the one bringing up States’ Rights — a traditionally Conservative talking point — and the Republican is saying that she wants restrictive government regulation to continue.

Watch the debate here. The question is asked near the 35-minute mark.

Here’s a transcript of the two-minute exchange:

Snellgrove to Arrington: Do you support the legalization of marijuana, either medically or recreationally?

Arrington: I worked hard in the statehouse on this issue, specifically. And I do understand the challenges with SLED [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] and the laws. I do support medicinal marijuana. I think that the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and the career politicians have let that drag on too long. That is something that should be a Schedule Two narcotic. My mother, God rest her soul — because I had to give her morphine when she was in incredible pain, dying of COPD, instead of medicinal marijuana (or cannabis) — she suffered tremendously and slept. I’ve watched epileptic children come before my committee … in the statehouse, who their only way to get through the day is through medicinal marijuana. I will work hard to ensure that we keep our promise to our community on that. But also, respecting the law; it should become a Schedule Two narcotic and we should ensure that our law enforcement has the tools that they need to protect our community.

Cunningham: We had a veteran’s round table in Mt. Pleasant last week and one of the veterans there was talking about how he went in to get treated and they just prescribed opioids. And he got addicted to Oxycontin whenever, sometimes, medicinal marijuana would have sufficed. I think medical marijuana should be legal. I’m not sure it should be a Schedule Two, the same level as Oxycontin — I don’t view it as that strong, but I think it should be legal. As it relates to recreational marijuana I think that should be left up to the states to decide. I think the federal government becomes too involved in our lives sometimes, and I think that should be a state issue determined on a state level.

BY Rhiannon Fionn

BY Rhiannon Fionn

Editor & Publisher

Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.

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