Attorney David Couch, a primary supporter of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment on the state ballot in November, told members of the Northeast Arkansas Political Animals on Friday that money is the reason why cannabis is not legally sold in the state.
Pharmaceutical companies cant patent it and thats the only reason why medical marijuana isnt legal, he said at the meeting in Jonesboro. And, everyone knows it.
Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe strongly opposes the amendment, or Issue 6 at will be printed on the ballot, and the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, (Issue 7). He told attendees both proposals would lead to casual marijuana use in the state, and many products, such as brownies, candy, and others laced with the drug would be commonly sold.
Bledsoe argued that if either proposal passes, anybody would be able to grow their own marijuana. Family Council President Jerry Cox, who also attended the meeting, agreed with Bledsoe. Doctors would be able to write notes instead of actual prescriptions to allow patients to get marijuana cards from the state. Bledsoe and Cox agreed marijuana has some medical benefits, but the two issues are written with broad language, and the risks to teens are too, great.
Couch said he didnt put a prescription provision in his amendment because marijuana is still technically illegal, according to the federal government, but the Feds allow states to decide if they want to allow medical marijuana.
Ryan Denham with Arkansans for Compassionate Care, and a proponent of Issue 7, fired back at Bledsoe, noting that 25 states already have medical marijuana, and the problems associated with the drug have been minimal. Bledsoe argued whole plant use could be dangerous, and the pain relieving compounds could be extracted and turned into a pharmaceutical-type drug. With a drug, the compound doses could be controlled, he stated.
Denham disagreed. Many studies indicate marijuana is more effective as a pain reliever when its consumed in natural form. Its used in cancer, AIDS, Parkinsons disease, and other disease treatments. Not one person in recorded human history has died from a cannabis overdose, he said more than once.
It could take decades to develop a pharmaceutical form of cannabis there is no excuse not to let Arkansas doctors make this decision, Denham said.
Medical marijuana will be a $7 billion industry in 2016, and that number could jump as high as $40 billion in the coming years, Bledsoe said. If legalized, special interest money from companies around the country would pour into Arkansas, he said. Marijuana dispensaries have to be cash only because banks wont open bank accounts for those businesses. Technically, they are trafficking in illegal drug money, from a federal government perspective, he said.
Couchs amendment would only allow 40 dispensaries in the state, and eight cultivation centers. His proposal is an amendment, meaning theres nothing the state legislature could do to stop it from being sold. But, he said the legislators and the Arkansas Department of Health will have broad abilities to regulate the commerce of the drug, and who gets access to it.
Bledsoe and Cox reiterated there hasnt been enough scientific research done to determine the potentially harmful, secondary effects of the drug. Some studies have shown prolonged use of the drug can seriously impact memory and other cognitive skills, he said. Denham and Couch agreed with the research aspect. If one or both proposals pass, it could open the door for universities in the state to conduct research on marijuana.
A recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll showed Issue 6 was leading 49-43% with voters, but Issue 7 trails 53-36%. And a majority (57%) of Americans say marijuana should be legal and a large majority of younger Americans do, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Oct. 12.
Denham said he hopes voters wont buy the rhetoric in November. Many people are suffering, and marijuana is one way to alleviate that pain, he said. Doctors already tell their patients to consume the drug. He just thinks they shouldnt be charged with a crime or go to jail for it.
Dont be misled there is a mountain of evidence, he said. Medical cannabis is safe, effective, and it works, he said.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Cannabis Proponent Says Plant Is Illegal Because Drug Companies Can’t Patent It
Author: George Jared
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