Medical professionals across Arkansas are joining the state’s budding medical marijuana business, though many health care providers remain ambivalent or are opposed to participating.
Medical marijuana isn’t yet legally available in Arkansas, and the first dispensaries or cultivation facilities could be months away from opening. But Arkansans are applying to be able to use the substance, with almost 300 people approved as of Friday, according to the state Health Department. Several physicians and at least one pharmacist are taking up their roles in the medical marijuana process as well.
“I see it as legitimate health care,” said Dr. John House with the Eureka Springs Family Clinic, who has recently certified several patients to use medical marijuana. “There’s been pain, HIV, cancer, a couple people with Parkinson’s who have spasms.”
Arkansas voters last year approved a constitutional amendment allowing marijuana use for 18 conditions and symptoms. The state is now taking applications for patients and businesses.
Patients’ physicians must certify their patients have at least one of the qualifying conditions, but the certification doesn’t endorse or prescribe the substance. A pharmacist consultant under state law must also be on hand at dispensaries to help ensure the marijuana doesn’t interact with other medications or get misused.
Thousands of studies in the past two decades have found evidence that marijuana or individual compounds in the plant provide relief from pain, muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea induced by chemotherapy, according to an analysis from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine earlier this year.
On the other hand, research also has found marijuana use can impair learning and attention and increase the risk of developing some mental health disorders and of being in a car accident, according to the analysis.
Several doctors and medical organizations pointed to how much research