In 2016, new legislation was passed in Arkansas which will allow the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, and law enforcement personnel across the state are working to navigate a scenario that puts local laws at odds with federal regulations.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as Issue 6, will allow individuals with an approved prescription to grow and consume certain amounts of the drug under their doctors’ supervision. As many other states are beginning to legalize marijuana for medical use or decriminalize it all together for recreational purposes, communities across the United States are in dialogue about what the outcomes of these new laws will be.
Although medical marijuana regulation differs from state to state, in Arkansas, the drug has been approved to treat the following conditions: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, the substance can be approved to treat other conditions if approved by the Arkansas Department of Health.
A Revenue Source for Arkansas
Aside from providing relief to individuals suffering from the health conditions listed above, supporters of Issue 6 cite an economic benefit to the legalization of marijuana for medical use.
As a legal substance, medical marijuana will be taxed by the state of Arkansas, and revenue from its sales will be used to fund the costs associated with administering the legislation and supporting various workforce and educational initiatives in the state.
The Critics Weigh In
Although Issue 6 has received widespread support throughout Arkansas, there are some that are voicing concerns about potential downsides of the legislation. In a recent statement, The Arkansas Department of Health said that they do not approve of Issue 6 for two reasons.
Firstly, they assert that the law puts local law enforcement officials and prescribing physicians at odds with federal regulations surrounding the legality of the drug. Secondly, they cite a lack of longitudinal research about the effectiveness of the drug in treating the conditions listed in the law, stating that there are other approved drugs that could legally be prescribed.
The Potential for Abuse
As more communities pass laws and amendments similar to Arkansas’ Issue 6, many look forward to increasingly progressive attitudes regarding marijuana use for medical purposes. But as with any medication, marijuana carries with it the potential to become a substance of abuse if used outside of recommended guidelines.
As marijuana access increases in Arkansas, addictions professionals must be available to provide the support that will be needed in instances of chemical dependence. And fortunately, quality treatment centers exists in Arkansas where men and women who fall victim to a substance use disorder can access the services they need to overcome addictive behaviors.