On November 17, psychiatrist Charles Bensonhaver, M.D., offered a critique of a medical cannabis bill being considered by lawmakers in South Carolina. He argues that because there are often other drugs available that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, seriously ill patients should be denied legal access to medical cannabis.

In light of our devastating experience with opioids — which are approved by the FDA — these horrific stories of addiction and death are more than enough for us to look for better alternatives. I would also point out how dangerous it is for pharmacies to stock and monitor opioids because of the increase in armed robberies.

In January of last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report presenting nearly 100 conclusions related to the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use. Among its many findings, the report found there is conclusive evidence that cannabis can help patients manage chronic pain. FDA approval of a pharmaceutical drug is little consolation to those whose lives have been shattered because of opiates.

By contrast, we see fewer deaths and less dependence on harmful drugs when medical cannabis is available as an option. In addition, medical cannabis offers more unique dosing forms besides just a "pill" that has to pass through our gut and not get absorbed as well as these other delivery methods. This is great news for patients.

My own pharmacy provides limited CBD-based products for this very reason, and we see the positive effect these products have on our customers. A well-regulated medical cannabis program would be even more helpful to our state’s community of seriously ill patients. It’s an option I hope they get.

A vocal minority opposes medical cannabis on principle and is quick to dismiss current research. These people are content to defer to government agencies in Washington, D.C., to tell them how to think, or in the case of doctors, how to approach their patients. But many doctors around the country, and millions of their patients, want a better and more natural solution than pills and would like to minimize dependence on pharmaceuticals. It’s time for South Carolina to adopt a program like so many other states before it, and give patients that safer alternative.

Daniel Bundrick, RPh

Pharmacist/Owner

Surfside Beach Pharmacy

Highway 17 North

Surfside Beach