Arkansas Surgeon General Speaks On Medical Marijuana Approval

Arkansas (KFSM) -- Lawmakers and health experts will begin designing a plan over the next few months on how best to roll out medical marijuana in Arkansas.

Voters approved the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, also known as Issue 6, by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin, according to recent numbers from the secretary of state's office.

The amendment legalizes the use of the marijuana for certain medical conditions with approval by a medical doctor.

Greg Bledsoe, Arkansas' Surgeon General, said a commission will be formed and tasked with ensuring a safe and smooth implementation.

"It looks like one of the first things that have to be decided is who's going to be on this commission," Bledsoe said. "I believe it's a five person commission that people will be appointed to by the speaker pro-tempore, the speaker of the house and the governor."

After receiving approval from the committee, various state agencies will convene to determine how to enforce rules put in place and how to keep families safe from issues that have arose in other states states where medical marijuana is legal.

"There have been products taken off the shelves in other states where they're labeled one way and when you actually test the product, the compounds aren't consistent with what the label says, or they're contaminated with high levels of pesticides," Bledsoe said.

When all is said and done, a patient may receive approval from their doctor if they meet one of 18 qualifying conditions.

"The note will come from the doctor, then the patient will take that note from their doctor to the health department, and the health department will issue a registration card," Bledsoe said. "They can then take that card and go to a dispensary and select the type of product they want or need."

Before Nov. 8, 24 states and the District of Columbia had legalized some form of marijuana. Following the election, along with Arkansas, voters in Florida and North Dakota approved medical marijuana.

Bledsoe, who spent the months leading up to the vote by publicly opposing Issue 6, said he wants to ensure a responsible roll out.

"I think it's very important that we don't put it off indefinitely," Bledsoe said. "At the same time we made wise decisions in an incremental fashion so that this isn't rolled out irresponsibly, because this could cause a lot of unnecessary problems."

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