Medical marijuana bill gains support from S.C. medical professionals

Updated: Jan. 19, 2021 at 9:07 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For years, some state lawmakers have pushed to legalize medical marijuana in South Carolina.

Now medical professionals in our area and across the state are voicing their support for the legislation known as the Compassionate Care Act with hopes 2021 is the year the bill passes.

“I think we’re going to have bipartisan support on this,” Representative Bill Herbkersman, one of the sponsors of the bill, said.

The Compassion Care Act would allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions like diabetes, cancer and PTSD.

Herbkersman hosted a virtual news conference on Tuesday put on by the SC Compassionate Care Alliance, which featured several medical professionals advocating for a treatment they say would help a lot of people live happier and healthier lives.

One of the speakers was Surfside Beach pharmacist Daniel Bundrick. Bundrick, who’s a big proponent of the bill, shut down his Surfside Beach Pharmacy to open High Tide Dispensary selling CBD products.

Bundrick said, at first, he wasn’t on board with legalizing medical marijuana until he tried CBD to help with constant, throbbing pain in his leg.

Fifteen minutes after taking it, he said the pain he had endured for decades stopped.

”In the early days I had to take it every night, but I’ve fed my system so well over the last four or five years now that I can actually skip doses,” Bundrick said. “I don’t because CBD is so healthy. Hemp is so healthy.”

Bundrick said he’s heard countless stories from his customers on how CBD has helped with their pain as well.

Dr. Jamelah Lemon, president of the S.C. Podiatric Medical Association, said a majority of her patients are diabetic. She said medical cannabis is proven to help reduce pain.

University of South Carolina’s Vice President for Research Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti echoed the same sentiments in that the treatment would provide much-needed relief to millions of people with chronic illnesses.

In the past, the bill has been unsuccessful. Some opponents believe it may open the gates to legalizing recreational marijuana as well.

However, this year Herbersken said it’s gained support from both sides of the political aisles.

We do have such a wealth of knowledge from before and you know we’ve got really some strong restrictions on this to keep it from becoming another Colorado, so it’s in the right direction,” he said.

So far, 36 states, including some southern states, have medical cannabis programs.

Right now, the bill is in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee awaiting a hearing.

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