Advocates Push For Legalizing Medicinal Marijuana In Arkansas

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Advocates in Arkansas continue to push for legalizing medicinal marijuana. But before voters see any measure on the November ballot, more than 60,000 signatures need to be collected.

Medical marijuana has been legalized for use in 20 states and Washington, D.C., but remains illegal in Arkansas. Back in 2012, a measure to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana failed by two percentage points, but advocates are hoping for a different outcome this year.

Two state advocate groups for medicinal marijuana are trying to get initiatives on the ballot. A proposal by Arkansans For Compassionate Care seeks medical marijuana to be allowed for people suffering from specific diseases and painful ailments. It would also allow those who live away from the marijuana dispensaries, perhaps in rural areas, to grow a few of their own medicinal marijuana plants.

A similar proposal by Arkansans For Responsible Medicine does not include language for self-grown marijuana.

To get the proposed measures placed on the November 2014 ballot, the groups each need to collect 62,507 signatures by July 7. An official with Arkansans for Compassionate Care said they have already collected about 10,000 signatures.

A contingent of detractors criticizing the possible dangers of marijuana stands in the way of the proposals.

"Once this cat is out of the bag, it becomes a monster, " said Pastor Tom Hatley with Immanuel Baptist Church in Rogers.

Hatley said if marijuana is legalized, things could get out of control fast.

"What we have today is going from purple haze to black haze," he said. "This is very dangerous. It's no longer a gateway drug."

Steve Lowry, a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent, agrees with Hatley. Lowry believes legalizing marijuana would ruin futures of the next generation.

"By legalizing marijuana, we are basically telling our kids and society that using marijuana is OK," he said. "We are saying marijuana is nothing more than smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol."

Emma Yingling, with Arkansans for Compassionate Care, said a vote for medical marijuana could give hope to those with chronic and painful medical conditions.

"Not all sort of pain medicines work for everybody," she said. "A kind of pain medicine that could potentially work for those people should be available."

Medical marijuana would be available for those suffering from specific diseases and ailments. That's exactly what mom Melissa Davis believes should be the law.

Davis' children Cierra and CJ Davis have PIG-T CDG, Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation. Davis said her children have thousands of seizures a day, one every 15 to 30 seconds.

"The disease involves iratractable seizures that don't respond to modern medicine," she said. "We have tried many many medicines and they just do not work"

Davis said CBD oil, which comes from the marijuana plant, could save the life of her children.

"It's been shown to either greatly reduce seizures and sometimes stop seizures," she said. "It even makes it possible for people to come off of all the pharmaceuticals"

Despite the growing number of signatures on the proposed initiatives, many stand firm on their stance against marijuana as potentially dangerous.

"This is a permanent addiction drug that can ruin your life," Hatley said.

Others, like Davis, are praying their stories change the minds of those against marijuana.

"I just want a chance to give them a chance," Davis said.


  • Chas Holman

    It is immoral that in 2014 we are STILL at the mercy of Richards Nixon’s 1973 ‘executive order’ Creating the DEA and scheduling marijuana as a schedule 1 with ZERO medical value.

    As so many and at one time all of the worlds and the nations history of medicines are plant derived, the fact we can’t even (for all practical purposes) ‘study’ this plant coupled with the US Governments legal mandate to prevent most study, is just pure evil.

    • dumptruckdriver69

      I’m fine with legalizing it for medicinal purposes. I want it controlled by USDA and FDA though. Just because your dreadlocks hurt isn’t good enough reason to toke up. Also do not want it to be smoked in public.

  • Sara

    It is extremely important that this issue is covered adequately by news sources, but I must say that I have a complaint about the way in which this story was presented. Local news is key in letting citizens of communities become knowledgeable about all sides of issues that otherwise may be difficult to find unbiased information on. In this newscast, and in the article under the video, there are several mistakes. Beyond numerous (very obvious) typos, the member of Arkansans for Compassionate Care is misnamed. Her name is Emma Yingling, not Emily, and she has worked tirelessly over the years to fight to save the lives of countless people through this medicine.That, however, is beside the point. Any issue presented through a news source should be well researched and well put together. This coverage shows a lack of professional behavior. I ask that all of you at 5news, a local source that I have depended on for years over other networks, would at least re-read an article written about a topic that is currently of great importance and debate in our communities.

    • Elamax

      “Local news is key in letting citizens of communities become knowledgeable about all sides of issues that otherwise may be difficult to find unbiased information on.” No my dear, local news is NOT unbiased. KFSM is the local liberal propaganda arm of CBS and the left-wing CNN. Truth.

      • Sara

        Well, “my dear”, I don’t think at any point in my post I claimed that 5news is or is not biased. My claim is that it should be. All news should be, but of course it’s not. No reason to be condescending.

  • just my opinion

    I’m 47 and I say make it legal, the problem we have right now are prescription pills and people addicted to them without a script and yet still obtaining them, and it is no worse than pills or even alcohol

    • rettawren

      I agree! Prescription pain pills are the real “gateway” drug. I’ve seen too many people literally wrecked, destroyed, by prescription pain relievers… which then lead to a host of other prescription drugs that counteract side effects. My older sister is practically a zombie now. Oxycontin for pain (she is addicted now…) Something to curb the irritability that comes with this kind of drug, then something to help with anxiety, and then now something to help her sleep… I try telling her that the pain pills are ruining her life, but without them she feels like she cant get out of bed, she is in so much pain. I swear the pills have worsened her pain… its horrible! So much would have preferred her take marijuana and become a pot head instead of a pill head.

  • Duncan

    I hate to say this, but this article does NOT help Arkansas’ reputation as being uneducated and full of overly-religious bible belt folks. We have such an opportunity right now with this getting on the ballot again this year. After losing by 2 percent, I’m hoping the backers of this initiative who didn’t vote before come out and vote this time.

    My father is on prescription pills and I’ve had to spend so many nights over the past few years in the ER after his overdoses. This would be a much, much safer alternative for pain relief and wouldn’t kill him in the process, unlike pills. Please cover this issue.

  • Brooks

    Asking a Baptist Pastor from Arkansas about legalization of marijuana is like asking a child what they think about quantum physics. News sources, please stop publishing the opinions of people that have no idea what they’re talking about.

    • Jojo

      I say where do I sign! Children only learn what we teach them! Marijuana is a much safer alternative to pain pills! I have outrageous pain I must live with the rest of my life at 40 years old. So peoe who are against a healthier answer would rather see me loose my internal organs than let me live in peace? Thanks arkansas! Let’s get this rolling so all peoples who are suffering can get some help!

  • happyme

    Legalized marijuana would be horrible. What about the effect the smoke has on bystanders? I’ve been aground someone smoking that in the past and got a nasty high tthat made me sick. It’s not okay. Don’t legalize!

    • smokeme

      Thats right “happyme”, once legalized there will be so much second hand smoke it will look like a wildfire!! You must have been really close or in a box with someone to get a good contact high! Get real

      • happyme

        Trust me, I am REAL. No need to be offensive. I was in the same room as the person, and yes, it made me sick and very light headed. Why are you so upset by my thoughts on it? Hey speaking of boxes though, maybe YOU should get in one and smoke it the next time you decide to light up. Just kidding. :-)

    • Kat

      The second hand smoke from smoking a joint or bowl would be treated the same as smoking a cigarette in the car with a child. And if you are bothered by the smoke, you have two feet, get up and walk away from it so you do not get a contact high. I believe that it should be legal in Arkansas that way people that are in so much pain can find some sort of relief. I have read and heard of so many people killing themselves on pills and drinking to ease their pain. Not once have I heard of anybody actually dying from smoking a little bit of pot. Pills and alcohol are so much worse than pot.

    • smokeme

      Ok happy, can understand that it made you sick, it can effect people differently. At the same time though why were you in the same room with this illigal activity going on? My point is that if it was legal doesnt mean that everyone would be “firing up” at anytime anywhere.

      • happyme

        The reason I was in the same room, is I was in my early 20’s, and this girl was a coworker who invited me over after work. I didn’t know what she was going to do until she lit up. At that point, I should’ve left but I thought if I just say no to smoking it, I would be fine. There’s a lot of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but I can’t go back and change things. I admit I’m naive to a lot of things due to lack of knowledge, so where there’s lack of knowledge there is naturally fear and anxiety. I also have children and so I don’t want them to exposed to it either. I guess I’ll just have to keep them away from it or people smoking it if it becomes legalized. I just wish they could put it in a pill or something. Ya know? Then it is just for them.

  • mustang96csr

    Eeesh..before reefer madness starts up..educate yourselves on the benefits of marijuana. The benefits far out weigh the downfalls. You people pointing fingers about this being a gateway every one of you has had a drink before, of even coffee. Guess that was your gateway to being drunk or hyped up on caffeine..right? People’s perceptions of marijuana are so askew.

  • Shepherd Yerusalem

    The ONLY thing dangerous about marijuana are the cops who shoot people for having it:

    Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals’ reports.

    TOBACCO – 340,000 to 450,000

    ALCOHOL  (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) – 150,000+

    ASPIRIN  (Including deliberate overdose) – 180 to 1,000+

    CAFFEINE  (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) – 1,000 to 10,000
    “LEGAL” DRUG OVERDOSE  (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol – e.g. Valium/alcohol – 14,000 to 27,000
    ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE – (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs – 3,800 to 5,200
    MARIJUANA – 0 

    (**Marijuana users also have the same or LOWER incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general NON-marijuana using population as a whole.** Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

    Accordingly a 1993 study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation came to the same conclusion as the above concerning marijuana and driving safety:

    “Marijuana, administered in a dose of 100 µg THC per kg of whole body weight…did not significantly change mean driving performance as measured…” – U.S Department of Transportation: Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance DOT HS 808 078

    The fact is people who use marijuana reflexes are not affected in a negative way and they become more conscious of safety, sometimes refusing to even drive.

    Marijuana is a plant with a safety record second to none.

    Anyone who would like to dispute these FACTS, point to a death that involves marijuana and nothing but marijuana, or hold your tongue.

  • Brian Rudderow

    There’s no reason not to legalize it, decriminalize it, and make recreational usage legal across the board. The fact that this plant is illegal in this country and you can’t even farm hemp…not marijuana, hemp!! is an outrage.

    We should not rest as a people until we have this useful resource made 100% available to anyone who wants to partake in it’s amazing properties.

    Legalize it already, damn.

    • Melissa Davis

      **Calling all compassionate folks in the Bentonville/Rogers area! Our Benton County Captain Julie Yell and dedicated volunteer Andi-K Heart are hosting an event at the Starbucks on Walton in Bentonville next Tuesday the 25th at 6PM! Go sign the petition, learn more about our initiative, and get set up as a volunteer!**

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