New Medical Marijuana Legislation Passed in Arkansas
A critical vote took place recently in Arkansas which legalized the use of medical marijuana to treat certain disorders in the state.
The initiative, which is known as Issue 6, passed by popular vote in spite of drawing harsh criticism from key stakeholders including the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Arkansas Attorney General.
The Arkansas Department of Health advised against passing Issue 6 stating: “The ADH supports changes in medical treatment that come from the medical community and are grounded in a rigorous scientific process. Currently, marijuana for medical use has not gone through a scientific process to evaluate its efficacy or safety. There are no scientific evaluations of the dosage and safety of marijuana varieties and preparations.”
The ADH statement noted that the organization feels there are more appropriate drugs for treating the conditions outlined in the bill, including medications that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Case for Compassionate Care
Proponents of the law cite the state’s predominantly religious population as a reason that similar measures failed to pass in the past.
In fact, Arkansas has many “dry” counties where alcohol cannot be purchased. But in light of the passing of Issue 6, residents will now be able to legally purchase marijuana in places where they cannot legally obtain a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer.
But recently, Issue 6 advocates engaged in outreach efforts to connect with conservatives in Arkansas. The bill’s supporters say that by connecting with the state’s Christian stronghold, they were able to help residents see the compassion inherent in passing Issue 6.
Now, residents who suffer from certain crippling conditions can find relief in medically-prescribed marijuana from their doctor’s office. To date, the state has approved treatment with cannabis for the following diseases and disorders, with special permissions being required for conditions not on this list:
- Positive status for HIV/AIDS
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe arthritis
- Alzheimer’s disease
Cause for Concern
Critics of Issue 6 like the Arkansas Attorney General fear that by passing the legislation, minors will have easy access to the substance, and it could potentially fall into the wrong hands. And although the legislation has allowed Arkansas residents to have increased access to marijuana, it should be mentioned that this substance, like many others that can be helpful for healing, has the potential to be abused.
Fortunately, treatment centers exist both in Arkansas and across the country that have programming to assist individuals who have become dependent on marijuana and other drugs. If you or someone you care about acquires a legal marijuana prescription from a qualified medical professional, be sure to only use the substance as directed, and do your best to educate yourself about safely using the drug.