Doctors, business owners argue over benefits of medical marijuana

CORNELIUS, N.C. — The atmosphere was tense Wednesday morning as doctors and business owners argued about the benefits of medical marijuana during a breakfast meeting in Cornelius.

"A lot of people need relief with this plant and we can't legally get it right now," said Michael Sims, the co-owner of Charlotte CBD.

From CBD oil to hemp to medical marijuana, there's a lot of talk about cannabis -- but not everyone is on the same page.

[READ MORE: North Carolina Senate passes bill expanding hemp industry]

"It has social impact issues -- what it’s doing to hospitalization, ER visits," said former North Carolina Sen. Jeff Tarte.

People on both sides of the debate were in Cornelius Wednesday, where the one thing they could agree on is that there are more questions than answers.

"Just like anything, there's going to be outliers as far as benefits, but for the majority of folks, the data just doesn't support that it’s beneficial," said Dr. William Wright with Atrium Health.

He said his medical research has shown some evidence that cannabis may help relieve neuropathic pain, but that the benefits of treating other illnesses like depression or glaucoma isn't as clear.

"We just don't have the science as far as understanding why it works, how it works," he said.

But the owners of Charlotte CBD told Channel 9 the proof is in the patients. Sims said they see thousands of people come through their doors each day with a story of success.

"We have people who come in and are on numerous medications and now are no longer on any medications and the impact is tremendous," Sims said.

State lawmakers are also talking cannabis. A proposed bill would regulate and license growers for hemp, a product with lesser amounts of THC.

But overall, one thing is clear -- the discussion is far from over.

"It's very important that we keep this conversation going to not be further behind,” Sims said. “It seems every state around seems to be legalizing."

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