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SC lawmaker talks use of medical marijuana to replace opioids, fight addiction

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(WPDE) — As the opioid epidemic rages on, new ideas are being floated to treat opioid addiction.

One of those includes using medical marijuana to replace opioids and fight addiction.

There’s research both for and against it, but nothing has received FDA approval.

Thirty-seven states have legalized medical marijuana and several of those states designated opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition, meaning it could be used to treat addiction.

Cannabetter Farm is a local business that produces legal hemp products.

The owner has seen the benefits marijuana has as a substitute for opioids.

“Generally it's prescription opioids, Percocet, stuff like that.

You hear people coming in who don't want to take that stuff anymore because it's damaging to their bodies.

You hear about people who stop taking all kinds of medications,” said Mathew Campell, C.O.O of Cannabetter.Farm.

He added, “I always recommend talking to your doctor, and having an honest conversation with them and see what you can see safely.”

According to the Recovery Research Institute, cannabis might have benefits to treat opioid addiction, but it has yet to receive FDA approval.

South Carolina State Senator Greg Hembree said that FDA approval is crucial because politicians aren't medical doctors.

“If the research supports FDA approval, all you need is FDA approval, and I'm 1,000 % for it,” said Senator Greg Hembree (District 28).

Cambell hopes the FDA looks at approving it.

“We have seen it firsthand as a retail outfit supplying people with these things. We have seen people gradually over time start to look healthier and like they are less afflicted by that pain management medication they have been using previously,” said Cambell.

Senator Hembree sees too many lobbyists - people with a commercial interest- advocating for medical marijuana.

“I would rather debate recreational marijuana at least we know that’s an honest debate. That's straight up. I wouldn't vote for it. But if the general assembly voted for that, I'm not going to feel bad about that,” said Sen. Hembree.

A bill to legalize medical marijuana passed through a House committee in Columbia last month.

Known as the Compassionate Care Act, it also includes conditions such as cancer, Crohn's disease, PTSD, autism, and terminal illness to be treated using medical marijuana.

The bill will now head to the state senate floor for a vote.


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