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South Carolina considers legalizing medical marijuana

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Medical marijuana is legal in 34 other states, and lawmakers in South Carolina want to add the Palmetto State to the list.

Last week, a Senate subcommittee passed the Comprehensive Care Act, which a portion of, would legalize marijuana for medical purposes-- but not all lawmakers are on board.

"I think that's a very dangerous precedent, I don't think it's our role andIi wont be supporting the bill," said Rep. Senator Greg Hembree.

Legal medical marijuana is a heated topic among lawmakers in Columbia, but author of the bill, Senator Tom Davis (R - Beaufort), says it's all in an effort to empower doctors to help those in need.

"It empowers physicians to provide cannabis as treatment for patients with certain debilitating conditions, which we carefully define," said Sen. Davis.

Medical cannabis can help with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other chronic diseases outlined in the bill.

However, Sen. Hembree says legalizing it is the FDA's job, and he fears legalizing it could cause issues associated with recreational use.

"Certainly a doctor is going to say, 'well, don't use it too much.' I'm sure, but that's how we got into the opioid crisis, I mean, it was a lawful drug that got us into the opioid crisis, and if we make this lawful, I think we run that same kind of risk," said Hembree.

"No one is in a better position than a doctor sitting down with a patient and making a diagnosis as to what's in that patients best interest, the FDA isn't in the best position to do that, law enforcement isn't in the best position to do that, politicians are in the best position to do that," said Davis.

Some South Carolinians agree the decision should be left up to the doctor.

"If it's necessary medically, they write prescriptions for about everything, so that would be the doctor's call, I would think," said Myrtle Beach resident Gary Lambert.

Sen. Davis says he's looked at those 34 states where medicinal marijuana is legal and penned South Carolina's bill in a similar way.

"I have looked at what curbs abuses. I have looked at what protects patients, we're coming up with a bill that I truly think South Carolinians will be proud of."

Sen. Hembree says while he is opposed to the bill, he's asked the FDA to speed up testing on medical marijuana to see its benefits.

Last year, the bill didn't make it because the legislative session ended before it could be debated, but this year, debate could begin in May.

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