By William stash Jones
Oregon Cannabis Connection
In 2016, Arkansas joined a number of states that passed marijuana legalization in one way or another. For “The Natural State”, it was a medical marijuana law that allows use for one of 18 specific qualifying conditions and also provides a distribution system for patients to gain reasonable access. The patient’s use must be approved, or “recommended” by a doctor, as in every medical use state, but they seem reluctant to participate in the new program so far.
The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association has started to compile a list of physicians that are willing to recommend the natural plant, and so far the list only has six. Storm Nolan of the association explained to Arkansas Online, “We’re getting a lot of calls and emails from people who just don’t know who to go to … We still have an education problem in that a lot of doctors still think they are recommending cannabis to treat these conditions.”
A typical complaint from doctors is that they have little control, if any, over the medicine’s use and dosage. Once a patient leaves their office, they can use as much as they want, and as often as they see fit.
Another problem is that medical groups have been opposed or are being silent and not endorsing the alternative treatment. Hospital groups and healthcare conglomerates have not weighed in, explaining that the decision should be made between the doctor and the patient. During the campaign, the Arkansas Medical Society opposed the initiative along with the states surgeon general and a number of other groups.
In an unusual requirement, a pharmacist must be “on staff” with dispensaries to explain to patients if there are possible interactions with other medications the patient is taking. Under the law, a single pharmacist may consult with a number of dispensaries. The dispensaries are expected to open beginning in early 2018.
In an attempt to educate the public, the association and the group Illegally Healed are holding symposiums around the state. The program includes physicians, activists, and knowledgeable professionals covering a variety of topics including how to get your medical marijuana card and how to use cannabis with cancer treatment.
As of July 28, over 1,000 people have filled out applications and 222 people had been approved. They started accepting the applications on July 5, 2017. According to the state’s own calculations and data, over half a million people could be eligible for medical marijuana, but only about 30,000 are expected to sign up.
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