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SC governor candidate wants to legalize marijuana in South Carolina

Joe Cunningham, a Democrat, says it would create new tax revenue.

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — A Democrat running to unseat South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is pushing for legalization of marijuana in the state. 

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham says legalizing pot would offer health care options and spin off millions in tax revenue. Cunningham spoke with The Associated Press before announcing his plan on Monday. He would also expunge criminal records for low-level marijuana-related crimes. 

Two other Democrats have filed for next year's gubernatorial primary, including State Sen. Mia McLeod, the first Black woman to run for governor. 

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.

RELATED: It's official: Joe Cunningham announces campaign for SC governor

Cunningham represented South Carolina's 1st Congressional District in Washington, DC, after flipping that district in 2018 from one that had been held by Republicans for 40 years and that Donald Trump had won by 13 points in the 2016 presidential race.

RELATED: SC congressman cracks open beer during farewell speech

But the GOP targeted his district as one to flip back in 2020, and they succeeded, as Nancy Mace narrowly edged out Cunningham for the seat.

Cunningham has said he wants to also advocate for expanding Medicaid, tackling climate change, and raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour if elected. 

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