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.