Marijuana: Vote your conscience

Editorial: ed·i·to·ri·al
[ed-i-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr-] noun:
An article that represents the official viewpoint of a newspaper on a topic
of public interest.

This upcoming voting session will include two medical marijuana issues on the ballot. Whether you vote for a president or not in the national election this should not stop you from voting on these issues at the state level.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medical marijuana is defined as using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. There are many people for and against medical marijuana but before you decide let us explain why we are for it and why you should vote for it.

Current studies have medical marijuana can relieve or cure the side effects of: severe nausea, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, ADHD, autism, glaucoma, lupus, migraines, PTSD and residual limb (phantom) pain, to name a few. Though there were studies done in the 1970s with marijuana it did not have the medical implications as today’s studies have.

There have also been numerous anti-marijuana ads over the years. Ads that say marijuana will turn you into a sloth, making you slow and unable to tell what objects really are or that it is a gateway drug to meth.
“This is all propaganda to scare an uneducated viewer about the effects of marijuana,” Harry Shapiro, author of “Waiting for the Man: the story of drugs and music,” said in his book.

Now don’t get us wrong there are negative side effects.

“Because marijuana impairs short-term memory and judgment and distorts perception, it can impair performance in school or at work and make it dangerous to drive an automobile,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This is the same effect alcohol has, but you need to do your own research and come to your own opinion.
Volkow continues to say that “it also affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, so regular use by teens may have a negative and long-lasting effect on their cognitive development. Also, contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive, and its use during adolescence may make other forms of drug abuse or addiction more likely.”

Marijuana is not a gateway drug as the public has known it, because it can be a gateway drug to those who would already have a predisposition to abuse other substances, but it is not for the rest of the populous, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Note that the most harmful time for marijuana on humans is during adolescence, which we agree that a developing adolescence’s mind should not be tampered with.

But there are positive effects that should not be ignored.

There are two main cannabinoids, which are any of a group of closely related compounds that include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis, from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and Cannabidiol or CBD, according to the Business Insider-Science. THC increases appetite and reduces nausea. The FDA-approved THC-based medications are used for these purposes. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation and muscle control problems. CBD is a cannabinoid that does not affect the mind or behavior. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.

These positive effects should not be ignored but need to be supported and further researched. This is why we want you to vote for medical marijuana.

But herein also lies a problem.

There are currently 2 issues on the ballot for people to vote on. One issue is founded to protect both the buyers and the suppliers and the other is not. This is important to know when voting because splitting the vote will benefit neither.

We have Issue 6 for medical marijuana, also known as AMMA – Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, which is an amendment that protects the business side, but does not protect the buyers or allow individual growers if a pharmacy is not close by. Issue 6 also does not use the funds to be self sustaining: 10 percent goes to the medical marijuana program, 10 percent goes to the Skills Development Fund, 30 percent goes to the state’s General Fund, 50 percent goes to the state’s Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund. Allowing the business side and government to profit.

Then we have Issue 7 for medical marijuana, also known as AMCA – Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, which is an act that protects the buyer, the business and has a higher standard for qualifying conditions (allowing those who need it for medical use, instead of recreational use, to qualify). Issue 7 also requires that all sales tax revenue goes back into the medical marijuana program so that it is self-sustaining.

“The AMCA is a comprehensive blueprint for establishing and regulating a medical cannabis program in Arkansas. This is not a recreational measure,” said Arkansans for Compassionate Care in a press release.

Issue 6 is supported by Maumelle Liquor, Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana and Broadleaf PSG LLC, and is opposed by Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities, Arkansas Faith & Ethics Council, Arkansas Against Legalized Marijuana and the Family Council Action Committee.

Issue 7 is supported by Arkansans for Compassionate Care, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, New Approach PAC, and is opposed by Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for Safer Arkansas Communities and Arkansas Faith & Ethics Council.

We support the Issue 7 medical marijuana act and do not support Issue 6. We want you to decide for yourself on how to vote and hope that you will vote in the next voting session.