The state of Arkansas has an interesting situation on their hands right now – they have two different chances to legalize medical marijuana this November, either through an initiated act or a constitutional amendment. Both of the proposed initiatives would allow full strength medical marijuana to be grown and dispensed legally to patients with a variety of medical conditions. They came close to passing a similar initiative about four years ago – but there is definitely more support now than there was four years ago and now suddenly, a lawmaker who opposes both measures, has an interest in legalizing CBD oil in the state.
This is being viewed as a bit of a distraction tactic by those trying to pass the medical marijuana initiatives – after all, Representative Dan Douglas, who says he will introduce the bill in 2017 should the initiatives both fail at the election, has never shown interest in legalizing CBD prior to this. His announcement also came shortly after a pro-medical marijuana television ad aired featuring a mother and her story of how CBD has helped her epileptic daughter.
“It’s funny we’ve known about the benefits of medical marijuana for many, many years now and it’s only when this issue gets on the ballot and before the people in Arkansas that this gets proposed,” said David Couch, head of Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana.
While it may sound a bit like a conspiracy, it is not entirely unfounded to think that. After all, lawmakers introduced the Charlotte’s Web bill to Florida law about the same time that Amendment 2 was being voted on in 2014. Lawmakers promised they would be doing something to take care of it themselves, and convinced many people that nothing further would be needed. From the time the law was passed, it took nearly two full years to get even a single dispensary up and running for patients to receive low-THC, high-CBD cannabis products.
According to Representative Douglas, the bill he intends to introduce would do more than simply help patients with seizure conditions – however, it is unlikely that this is true. After all, a lot of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for patients his draft bill lists (cancer, Crohn’s and Parkinson’s, for example) come from THC, not CBD alone. This means that even if his intentions are good, it still would not be the kind of medical marijuana the patients need.
Hopefully Arkansas voters will realize this and learn from the mistakes of other states, like Florida, and pass one of the medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot, which would help thousands more patients than a bill that may never even make it to the Governor’s desk in the first place.