SC scientist blazing a path for marijuana research

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The VP for Research at the University of South Carolina is shedding the light on the virtues of cannabis

Prakash Nagarkatti hails from what is now known as Dharwad in India. He holds a bachelor’s degree in botany and chemistry, a master’s in microbiology from Karnataka University and a doctorate in immunology from India’s Jiwaji University. He grew up being treated with herbal remedies for the flu or aches and pains, which fueled his passion to pursue a career that would allow him to study the herbs. He came to the U.S. and went on to become the VP of Research at the University of South Carolina (USC), where he is using his talents and skills as one of the foremost experts in cannabis to help rewrite history on the natural plant.

Nagarkatti has been in his current position since 2011 and now oversees a $250-million research enterprise that spans all USC campuses. He also serves as the director of the National Institute of Health’s Centers of Research Excellence in Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases. He and his team have discovered a growing list of ailments and afflictions that are benefited by cannabis treatment – including cancers and deadly bacteria. Says Nagarkatti, “You can’t ignore the science.”

Like most, Nagarkatti recognizes that more research is needed, but points out that there’s a Catch-22 going on that makes this difficult. The federal government wants more research completed to determine if it will authorize more research and more research is needed to make that determination. Nagarkatti rightfully points out, “It’s just a political mess no one wants to fix.”

He isn’t giving up, though, and his efforts are proving what cannabis opponents refuse to accept, despite the science. Cannabis works in treating a variety of ailments and has the added benefit of not submitting patients to a string of unwanted side effects that lab-based chemicals routinely provide.