Medical Marijuana Debate Heats Up

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On Tuesday, November 6, Arkansans will vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana or not.

A group of doctors, nurses and patients gathered on the Fayetteville Square Tuesday voicing their support for Issue 5. 

"I believe it's an effective drug for people who have conditions for which they might use it for chronic pain, for nausea, for debilitating chronic medical illnesses that haven`t responded to other medications and I think it`s probably safer than most of the medicines that are used for that now," said Dr. David Crittenden.

Dr. Jim Bledsoe, a Rogers surgeon, disagrees.

“Marijuana is a schedule I drug as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency,” he said. “It is in the same class as heroin and LSD.”

Several arguments have been made regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. Some say the drug is dangerous, that it can`t be controlled and could lead to abuse while others say marijuana can ease the side effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma and other illnesses.

Benton County Judge Bob Clinard is opposed to the way the measure is written.

"I think it would lead to an abuse of growing marijuana not for medical purposes,” Clinard said. “I think we all know that the use of marijuana has been proven to lead to other drugs."

Two cancer survivors shared their stories of how marijuana makes chemotherapy treatment bearable and say they don't want to be penalized for using it.

"My number one argument is that it's a safe and effective drug and that it should be available," said Dr. Crittenden.

Clinard is up for re-election against independent candidate Ronnie Smith.

Early voting has begun but ends November 5.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

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