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Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program: Legislation To Add New Conditions Fails

Leslie kahn



On January 14, 2019, Arkansas State Representative Douglas House (R-40) introduced House Bill 1150, adding 39 additional qualifying conditions to the already existing 18 conditions for the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Program.

List of Additional Conditions: 

  • adiposis dolorosa or Der-cum’s disease
  • anorexia
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • asthma
  • attention deficit disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • autism
  • bipolar disorder
  • bulimia
  • causalgia
  • chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • chronic insomnia
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • complex regional pain syndrome Type I and Type II
  • dystonia
  • emphysema
  • fibrous dysplasia
  • general anxiety disorder
  • hydrocephalus
  • hydromyelia
  • interstitial cystitis
  • lupus
  • migraine
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myoclonus
  • nail-patella syndrome
  • neurofibromatosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • posterior lateral sclerosis
  • post-concussion syndrome
  • reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • residual limb and phantom pain
  • restless leg syndrome
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • spinocerebellar ataxia
  • spinal cord injury or disease including without limitation arachnoiditis
  • syringomyelia
  • Tarlov cysts
  • traumatic brain injury

Representative House's motivation for the additions was to try and cover all conditions that medical cannabis successfully controls. His choice of new conditions was compiled after listening to patients, analyzing medical research and referencing other states’ qualifying conditions. He wants Arkansans to have access to medical cannabis without having to force them or their doctors to lie about their medical conditions. Said Representative House, “We’re trying to keep it honest.”

There is some mixed reaction on the removal of glaucoma. Some ophthalmologists who consulted with Representative House convinced him that cannabis may ultimately cause glaucoma to worsen due to the deprivation of oxygen and other nutrients to the eye. They did acknowledge that cannabis does provide temporary relief to the symptoms of the condition, but determined that the potential harm outweighs the benefits.

David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who drafted Amendment 98, disagrees. He believes that glaucoma should remain a qualifying condition, based on his consultation with ophthalmologists and optometrists. He also feels that the patients should be the ones to make the decision on whether or not to use cannabis to treat glaucoma.

Petitioning the Arkansas Department of Health is another avenue open to Arkansas residents to add additional qualifying conditions. A petition to add bipolar disorder to the list has been denied. However, approval through petitions is unlikely as the Arkansas Department of Health only looks at medical research when deciding to add new conditions. Due to its illegal federal status, there are very few studies using human participants to back research results. Most lawmakers must rely on anecdotal evidence to support their legislation.

Update on HB 1150

Sadly, on February 13, 2109 the bill was brought up for a vote in the House Rules Committee, but it did not receive enough support to advance to the floor.

Arkansas Department of Health Issues Medical Cannabis ID Cards 

The Arkansas Department of Health staff has announced that they have started issuing medical cannabis ID cards to the 7,126 approved Arkansas patients. The cards will be valid as of February 15, 2019.

Dispensary openings are still on track to begin in April. Bloom Medicinals Texarkansas expects to be opening its doors in June, 2019.

Oklahoma is one of several states to offer temporary medical cannabis licenses to out-of-state residents who can possess it, consume it and even grow it. An application with a $100 fee is required to obtain a temporary license for 30 days. Renewals are accepted after the 30 days and require an additional fee. Those Arkansas patients who do not want to wait until April have been anxiously awaiting the issuance of their medical cannabis cards. This would give them access to Oklahoma dispensaries without having to purchase a temporary license and pay the fee. They can now travel to Oklahoma to purchase medical cannabis products. However, the product can only be consumed in Oklahoma. Bringing it across state lines violates federal laws.

Source: arkansasonline.com, Bill Proposes to OK Medical Marijuana Use for More Conditions, Jan 15, 2019
kark.com, Arkansas Issues Medical Marijuana Cards to Thousands of Patients, Jessi Turnure, Feb 6, 2019
wikileaf.com, Oklahoma Allowing Out of State Travelers To Get Temporary Cards, Anna Lucia Krupp, Jan 11, 2019
mjbizdaily.com, Efforts in Arkansas To Add Nearly 40 Medical Marijuana Conditions Falls Short, Feb 14, 2019