Americans' opinions on marijuana are changing. Currently the majority of the population supports legalizing cannabis for recreational use, with even more supporting it for medical use. And while our politicians' minds aren't changing as fast, there are still some who are coming around, even in the Republican Party.
Greg Hembree is a Repubilcan State Senator in South Carolina. This week he introduced a bill that will demand Congress get the Food and Drug Administration to determine if marijuana has medical benefits.
"I think, personally, I think that marijuana and cannabis have legitimate medical uses, but you need the science to support that and you need the science to make sure that's safe and I fear that approach we are taking now is dangerous," Hembree said.
Hembree noted that the FDA and other agencies in the federal government have studied marijuana for years but have never given a definitive answer about whether the drug is beneficial or not. Now's the time for them to answer that question.
"So, this idea is to get the FDA to once and for all make a decision. They've been testing it for years–give them the freedom to do whatever testing they need to do to complete that test and make a judgement about that and then regulate it nationally, as we do any other medicine whether it be antibiotics, cancer drugs, opioids. We need to have that uniform regulation because this state to state regulation is not a good model," he said.
Hembree also noted that medical marijuana could help fight America's opioid crisis.
While it's unlikely Hembree's bill will bring any change, it's at least a good sign that even Republican politicians in very conservative states are beginning to open up to the idea of marijuana.