SC lawmaker calls for immediate research on medical cannabis

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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – State Senator, Greg Hembree, is demanding Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) immediately start research on the medicinal value of cannabis.

He pre-filed a concurrent resolution that says “it’s time for the federal government to recognize the serious public policy risks born from lack of medical, public health and pharmaceutical research into cannabis and its use for medicinal purposes.”

Hembree said Washington has long placed barriers preventing research by the FDA to examine potential benefits or harms of cannabis.

“It’s time for them to quit fooling around quit dragging along and go ahead and do the test, develop the evidence and then make a judgment as to whether its got medicinal uses,” said Hembree. “And if it does, in what doses and how are we going to handle that.”

Hembree said the state’s opioid problem was one of the reasons he wrote this bill.

“I believe in my heart that there are people that cannabis could help that are now on opioids,” said Hembree. “I think it’s a less dangerous path to take when you’re trying to manage pain or other medical conditions.”

Judy Ghanem said she was happy to see this bill because her daughter, Kira, has a rare duplication on the short arm of chromosome 16, tethered cord syndrome and autism. She believes medical cannabis could help Kira.

“Sometimes she’s as good as gold and sometimes she has these outbursts of violent behavior,” said Ghanem. “So that’s what we’re hoping medical cannabis will help.”

Hembree said the goal of the bill is to determine if cannabis can be used as medicine and if it can, to use it in the right way.

“Then make an informed decision about it,” he added. “Is it dangerous to some people? Should we not give it to some people? The same questions we’d ask about any other medicine that we’re considering making available to the public.”

Hembree said he’s taking this approach because he thinks it’s a bad idea for individual states to legalize certain medicines.

“Quite frankly, the South Carolina General Assembly is not that smart,” said Hembree. “We’re not that good at understanding what good or bad these medicines can do. That’s not our job. So let’s let the people whose job it is, the FDA, undertake this responsibility.”

Hembree said this bill is not a backdoor way to legalize marijuana but one to look at the research and science behind it.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

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