Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act Reaches Deadline For 2014 Ballot

With the deadline to collect supportive signatures vastly approaching, the Arkansans for Compassionate Care group is counting signatures Sunday night in hope that they will have the legalization of medical marijuana on this year’s November ballot.

As of right now, the use of marijuana is illegal in Arkansas.

“I think it would be a big mistake[ to legalize it],” Dr. James Bledsoe said.

“The Controlled Substance Act, passed in the 1970’s, lists the cannabis drugs as a dangerous drug that should not be used for medicine,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

Dr. Bledsoe is a physician in Northwest Arkansas. He says the drug is not as proven as a medication as some may think.

Dr. Bledsoe says he wouldn’t prescribe the drug to someone today if it was legal.

“As a physician, I have to be sure about what I am prescribing,” Dr. Bledsoe said. “I don’t want to legalize something, I don’t want to go through the legislative process and bypass what we do with all drugs, going through screening through the FDA, clinical trials, and so on.”

But, those who are for the initiative to legalize medical marijuana say they think it is proven, and possibly even safer than other doctor-prescribed medications.

“I believe it is more natural,” said Sidney Woods, who signed his name on the initiative. “You can’t overdose on it like you can with some of the other medicines that are prescribed by doctors. And, it doesn’t have any of the negative side effects that a lot of the medicines have.”

Woods signed his name on the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act earlier this year.

He says his family has seen marijuana work for medical purposes, as his aunt tried it after injuring her back.

“She takes really high grade OxyContin and Valium, and all those pain killers, and they don’t really work for her,” Woods said. “But, she has tried marijuana once or twice, and its worked wonders for her.”

Many supporters believe that the drug should have age restrictions on its usage in substitute for other medical pain killers.

“I think, once you get to a certain age, it’s a lot safer [than current prescribed drugs],” Woods said.

However, some, like Dr. Bledsoe, say it is worse.

“It is addicting. If you use it daily, approximately 17 percent of people will become addicted to it,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

Dr. Bledsoe tells 5NEWS there are only a couple small reasons that marijuana plants are useful or, and he doesn’t believe one of them is to replace common pain killers.

“I hope people understand what they are getting into if they vote for it,” Dr. Bledsoe said.

5NEWS reached out to the Arkansans for Compassionate Care group for comment.

However, they were unable to speak at the time, as they were busy counting signatures for Monday’s deadline.

If they indeed obtain enough signatures for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act by Monday, the initiative would be on the November 4 ballot this year.

12 comments

  • Tim Rennels

    It’s sad when a medical doctor ignores science. Cannabis never at any time met the qualifications to be a schedule 1 drug. The decision to make it illegal was political, not medical or scientific. The AMA opposed making it illegal in 1937.

  • mark

    you might ask bledsoe how much he’s addicted to caffeine & alcohol…both are far more addicting than pot. he’s just another politically correct political figure gathering support from the status quo

  • Matt

    It’s sad to see physicians such as this one to be so closed minded about a medication that has been shown time and time again to really work on patients with epilepsy, seizures, cancer, pain, depression, anxiety, and countless more. A lot of these patients have to take medicine for the side effects of the other medicine that they are taking just to function. While medical marijuana could really improve people’s lives. I work in the medical field and I have researched medical marijuana and I fully support it.

  • t leslie

    who is dr Bledsoe and why is he an expert or this matter. is ok to give massive amounts of narcotics for chronic pain and make narcotic addicts out of people with arthritis and non life threating problems.

  • mark

    most of those against this initiative are probably ultra religious or old school status quo…interestingly, some of the older members of that group could be the ones most benefiting for the medical benefits of the herb…rather than the host of dangerous prescriptions as mentioned above. in terms of their recreation, is whiskey, beer & cigarettes less harmful & addictive than bledsoe’s premise of pot addiction? hey wake up to the 21st century.

    • One-Sided

      I guess I consider myself “ultra-religious and old-school” but I support this measure as do several of my “ultra-religious” friends. Please don’t make assumptions and lump people into stereotypes.

  • Sarah 300

    Call Channel Five and see if you can find a location to sign the petition. It may be too late but the problem arises from not enough signatures.
    Dr. Bledsoe is an outstanding doctor. He was asked his opinion and gave it. Everyone has an opinion as we all know.
    I am FOR this ballot proposal.

  • Bob Skully

    Dr. who? The guy has no real experience to add any informative comments on the subject. He probably just ended up being the one who anwered the phone when reporter called around.
    Anyways this Arkansas, it will go federally legal before that closed minded state comes around to even getting it on a ballot. Good for the growers and dealers as the high price will keep them in business. It is almost impossible to make any money out west growing anymore. Unless your running multi farms, shipping somewhere like Arkasas, its now pretty much a hobby.

  • madmouse007

    Arkansas – my doctor kept trying to put me on meds that made me feel dead. Moved to Colorado – dumped meds and use alternative medicines/treatments (including medical mj) and feel like a new man :)

  • One-Sided

    This seems like such a one-sided report. Why didn’t you interview a medical professional who supports the use for medicinal purposes? I’m disappointed.

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