Medical marijuana petition launched in Arkansas

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Jun 21, 2007
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Thousands of sick and dying people in Arkansas are forced to make a difficult decision: break the law by using a medicine that their doctor recommends or continue to suffer. For many Arkansans, medical marijuana helps them live comfortably without harmful side effects. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act ballot title was approved by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Monday. More than 60,000 Arkansas voters must sign this petition for it to appear on the November 2012 ballot.

Kathy Reynolds, a breast cancer survivor living in Bella Vista says, “Marijuana saved my life, and I don’t feel I should be put in jail for trying to live.” Kathy, like many other Arkansas patients, has found marijuana is the only drug that helps her cope with the nausea associated with chemotherapy. No other drugs have the therapeutic qualities of marijuana.

James Yale, a world-renown artist and multiple sclerosis patient from Rogers says, “Marijuana reduces my tremors and pain like no other prescriptions. It allows me to continue to paint and live a normal life.” In 2003, several Arkansas drug task force agents visited Mr. Yale. He invited them into his home and explained that his prescriptions were too expensive, and often caused him more harm than good. Mr. Yale was arrested for growing marijuana in his home as medicine, and they had to call another police vehicle to his home to carry his wheelchair.

Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Yale are not alone in their experiences or their symptoms. Marijuana’s ability to reduce nausea, intraocular (inner eye) pressure, muscle spasms, pain, and increase appetite is helpful for a variety of medical conditions including glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. Until 1942, the United States Pharmacopeia listed marijuana as a treatment for these conditions, but it was removed a few years after marijuana became illegal because it was suggested its inclusion in the Pharmacopeia was contradictory to the law. Currently, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. In other words, 1 in 3 states, or 30 percent of the United States, allow sick and dying patients access to medical marijuana.

The growing body of research surrounding marijuana and its medicinal properties has led several medical and religious organizations to agree marijuana should be a treatment option for sick patients. These organizations include the American College of Physicians, Federation of American Scientists and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Several others, including the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association support the facilitation of wide-scale, clinical research trials so that physicians may better assess cannabis’ medical potential. Several religious organizations including the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church, have also supported medical marijuana legislation. These churches, and many more, have made national statements saying doctors shouldn’t be sent to jail for deciding what is best for their patients, and sick patients shouldn’t be criminals for using a medication that has been legally recommended by their physician.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care believe patients and their doctors should live free from fear when discussing marijuana as a viable treatment. Doctors should use their best judgment when recommending medical marijuana, and should not go to jail for doing so. Patients should be able to obtain their medication from a regulated source without prosecution.

Thousands of sick and dying people in Arkansas are currently forced to make two choices: break the law by using a medicine that their doctor recommends or continue to suffer. Arkansans for Compassionate Care is offering a third choice: compassionate care and safe access to safe medicine for thousands of Arkansans.


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