NWA Leaders Speak Out About Medical Marijuana Act

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With less than two weeks before the election, people on both sides of the medical marijuana issue are making their case for why it should be passed or defeated.

The proposed Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act is on this year’s ballot as Issue 5.

Friday, several Northwest Arkansas leaders came together at the Jones Center in Springdale to voice their opposition. 

"No one wants to deny people care when they are in pain or when they are suffering,” said Senator Cecile Bledsoe. "But there are too many unknowns about marijuana. There are too many different side effects. Medical marijuana is not the answer."

Emily Williams is a lymphoma survivor who smokes marijuana to relieve nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy.

"Whether you like the idea of medical marijuana or not it's going to be used so you might as well bring it out into the open and put some day light on it," Williams said.

General Surgeon Dr. Jim Bledsoe suggests patients talk to their doctors about other prescriptions like FDA approved Marinol.

"It does work. It does work on nausea, it does work on anorexia, people who have difficulty eating like age patients but it does not give the high that say certain other controlled substances do," Dr. Bledsoe said.

Williams said if the proposal fails on Election Day, some people seeking pain relief will still use the drug, making them lawbreakers.

"If this law doesn't pass, medical marijuana is still going to be used,” Williams said. “There will be people who need it who don't use it but there are going to be other people who are going to use it."

If the proposal passes, a patient would have to submit to the state written approval from a physician saying they qualify.