MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – United States Congresswoman Nancy Mace says recent efforts by President Joe Biden to decriminalize marijuana and pardon past offenders are a step in the right direction, but that there’s more work to be done.

The Lowcountry lawmaker says her bill would take things a step further to help more people.

Representative Mace says her current bill would release roughly 2600 non-violent cannabis inmates booked on simple possession charges, saving the government more than $600 million over the next five years.

Rep. Mace says the efforts are important because, when regulated, cannabis would have tremendous benefits for a number of South Carolinians and Americans.

“We know veteran suicide is a huge problem and that cannabis has been shown to cut down on anxiety and help veterans sleep better,” said Rep. Mace. “They live a better quality of life with less depression, less suicidal thoughts, and less propensity for suicide when they’re taking cannabis under the guidance and care of a physician, and so my bill would allow them access to medical cannabis.”

Representative Mace says she’s also hoping to reclassify marijuana from a level-one drug to a lower-level drug.

Another goal for Rep. Mace is to adopt responsible legislation to set guidelines and put restrictions in place that would make marijuana-based products safer in the future.

“Right now, we only have CBD,” said Mace. “But in the future, I would imagine we will have cannabis for medical use. This puts some guardrails in place for states that are going there. It’s important to have responsible legislation and to be a leader on this issue. This is a multibillion-dollar industry, it’s not going away. We won’t be able to put this genie back in the bottle.

In a statement, Dr. Annie Andrews said she fully supports the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana saying she understands the medical benefits.

Dr. Andrews said Representative Mace voted against decriminalizing marijuana and said Mace’s proposed bill wouldn’t help South Carolinians.