FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)-- There are two issues on the ballot in November that have to do with legalizing medical cannabis in Arkansas.
Wednesday (Oct. 19) two physicians and a local cancer survivor came together in Fayetteville in support of the Arkansas cannabis act known as issue 7.
If voters pass Issue 7 the state health department would oversee almost 30 non-profit cannabis care centers.
Emily Williams was diagnosed with cancer more than six years ago and the chemo made her nauseous and she didn't respond well to prescription drugs, but cannabis was different.
“Within 15 minutes I no longer had a headache, I was no longer sick to my stomach, I no longer felt any of the pain and I was in excruciating pain,” Williams said.
Williams always felt guilty using it because it is illegal and she was putting people she loved at risk.
“Nothing that would have been prescribed to me legally would have had the effect that cannabis had on my body and yet I sent it home, I sent it away, I didn`t keep any of it. The next morning I tried all the pharmaceuticals and then made a phone call,” she said.
Dr. William Piechal has been seeing chronic pain patients for almost 30 years and said that right now, most of his patients are taking opioids to control the pain.
“With the cannabinoids on board I should be able to lower that threshold significantly. That`s one of the reasons I would love to do some legitimate research on this area of medicine that unfortunately is prevented because of the scheduled status because of the DEA,” Piechal said.
But Issue 7 also has significant opposition, several state leaders spoke today at the capitol against medical cannabis.
“I've personally lost cousins to cancer, lost loved ones, have dear friends who are battling for their lives as we speak. However, as compassionate as we are, we want those individuals to receive those treatments and those medicines through their doctors,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said.
The other issue opposed was Issue 6, which is an amendment that legalizes medical marijuana.
The two cannabis measures differ in several different ways.
Issue 6 has 17 qualifying patient condition while Issue 7 has 56 qualifying patient conditions.
Issue 6 does not allow you to grow-your-own marijuana while Issue 7 allows patients to grow it if they live more than 20 miles from a dispensary.
Issue 6 prohibits the use of medical cannabis on college campuses while Issue 7 does not.
For Issue 6 local voters can prohibit dispensaries in their communities while with Issue 7 they would have no choice.