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— Robert Reed of Van Buren County has a clear image in mind when he talks about proposing a medical cannabis initiative, and he said it isn’t one of a long-haired hippy smoking a blunt.

“We are trying to get across the vision of a veteran with a vaporizer trying to relieve pain,” Reed said. “We don’t want a whole state of pot smokers. We have got to get over that paradox.”

Reed himself is a disabled veteran, and with family members suffering from cancer, he strongly believes in controlled medical cannabis. He and a group of about 10 to 12 others are working on language for a proposal to state Sen. Randy Laverty, D-Jasper, who has agreed to work with the group on proposing legislation to the Arkansas General Assembly.

Reed is familiar with thehistory of attempted cannabis legislation in the state.

“There has been some referendum to get signatures. Those have all failed,” Reed said. “But we have a better shot of getting this done than ever before.”

Reed said passing legislation will be a matter of educating the public.

With that goal in mind, Reed created the Facebook page called “Arkansas for Medical Cannabis” in order to promote the initiative.

The page has 1,454 fans and lots of activity and discussion so far.

Members are able to discusstopics on various forums, including “What do you like or dislike about your state’s medical cannabis laws?” which aims to generate feedback from those living in states where medical cannabis is legal. Other forum topics include “future efforts,” “political response” and “neuropathic pain.” The language of the proposed bill is also available on the site, Reed said.

“It looks totally different from other states,” he said. “We are limiting government and allowing the doctor and thepatient to decide.”

For the time being, Reed said, they are asking interested individuals to visit the Facebook page and contact their local representatives at the state and local level to determine their level of support for medical cannabis.

“We want to find out before November if they are going to support the citizens of Arkansas or if they’re not,” Reed said.

A group of about 10 to 12 residents from Clinton and Fairfield Bay also meet regularly to discuss the issue.

Charles, a Van Buren County resident who asked that his last name be withheld, is one of the regular group members. A transplant from the East Coast, Charles was happy to join up with the group on the issue.

“I consider myself an outsider coming in because I’m not born and raised here,” he said. “People say everything is fine - but not everything is fine. I see cases within the past two years thatmost of the people that get arrested for growing [cannabis] are people over 60 years old.”

Charles said he wants cannabis to be legally available to those who need it for medical reasons only.

“Why are we locking up sick people for seeking help?” he asked.

Charles and Reed will continue working diligently with their group on the issue.

If legislation doesn’t reach the floor of the Arkansas General Assembly, Reed said, he will keep trying.

“If ours doesn’t pass, we’ll join forces with somebody else or try a different tactic,” Reed said. “It’s too important to the people of Arkansas who need [medical marijuana] and can’t get it.” - czilk@ arkansasonline.com

River Valley Ozark, Pages 61 on 06/03/2010

Print Headline: medical marijuana

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Archived Comments

  • pupuguru
    June 4, 2010 at 7:09 a.m.

    I have been censored from posting on the Arkansans For Medical Cannabis. I have some experience in these matters and because I disagree with some of the wording of the proposal they have, I am blocked from commenting on the proposal in public. In my opinion, there are serious flaws in the proposal as currently worded. Patient care and security are NOT met in a meaningful way, according to feedback from other states regarding their problems. The group remains somewhat anonymous and is certainly not open to comments that question their proposal. Please contact me directly if you have any questions. This proposal SHOULD NOT BE PASSED, IN MY OPINION. I have worked for MMJ for twenty years, in several countries and am a patient myself. There are better ways to proceed than taking a wrong first step. Kinda like the old joke..."Momma, why do I have to walk in circles?" "Shut up, or I'll nail your OTHER foot to the floor!!" Don't go walking in a circle on this one folks..;-D

  • humble
    June 4, 2010 at 8:38 a.m.

    This matter should have been done with, a long time age. We have a godsend in Marijuana. We have been conditioned to believe that this is harmful. People have been using Marijuana for pain for years. I don't have to expound on the medical value of Marijuana, we have been over that before, many times. The time will come, Marijuana, will be legal to use for medical use. I would rather use Marijuana, than any pharmaceutical drug for pain. The benefits outweigh the bad. If you don't know enough about the benefits of Medical Marijuana, then educate yourself on the subject, you maybe surprised.

  • LevitiCuss
    June 4, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.

    Most people aren't aware of the facts surrounding marijuana:
    1. It's only illegal because Randolph Hearst, the newpaper mogul who owned virtually all newsprint production in the U.S., wanted to stop competing hemp businesses from entering paper production.
    2. There is not a single incidence of death on record attributable to marijuana.
    3. The two biggest contributors to the "war on drugs" are the U.S. liquor and tobacco industries via "Partnership For A DrugFree America".
    4. 60% of people in our prisons are there for non-violent drug-related offenses, and they each cost us around $30K/year.
    5. The U.S. imprisons a greater percentage of our population than any other industrialized nation.
    RW Bible-Thumpers maintain that legalization will lead to increased usage, but Amsterdam- where dope is legal- has half the usage rate of the U.S. I heard one of their government leaders interviewed on the subject, and he said that could be attributed to the fact that Amsterdam had done what the U.S. couldn't: They managed to make dope boring.

  • NickieD
    June 4, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.

    humble & Leviti are both right. And for those of you that don't realize it, Leviti's figure of $30K per year is a low estimation PER prisoner.
    Add to that the "War on Drugs" does not really exist (just as the War on Terror, Poverty and childhood ignorance are all flops & jokes) and is a multi-billion dollar propaganda expense. Neither 'enforcment' or users want drugs to disappear... plus Leviti left out one of the biggest lobbiests against the legalization, control and taxation of drugs; the Drug Lords themselves. They stand to lose billions and billions in untaxed revenue, and they lobby big money through legal channels to prevent any rational thought or discussion on the subject.
    There are many people who still believe that "Refer Maddness" is an accurate depiction of pot use, especially in law enforcment who, in many cases, consider themselves to be the left hand of god.

  • Testingonetwothree
    June 4, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.

    Why are we reinventing the wheel?
    "He and a group of about 10 to 12 others are working on language for a proposal "
    other ststes have this already approved, whey not use something thats already been written and make a few changes

  • arkienanna
    June 4, 2010 at 11:23 a.m.

    I agree with conservativearkansan....let's learn from the states that have been here before. Why repeat their mistakes? It is hard to believe that anyone still believes it is better to have marajuana only available through uncontrolled illegal sources while denying law-abiding patients the benefit of its relief during chemo, etc. I still don't believe in recreational use (of any drug), but there are documented medical benefits to its use for certain medical situations. Let's get over this "refer madness" syndrome and use some logic and common sense.

  • johnwmcmaster
    June 4, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.

    Would you believe all the left wing nuts(as bill smith would say) have all the answers and everyone else is wrong. Levit states that there is not a single death on record attributable to marijuana. Levit has no proof and you are a complete fool if you believe that statement. Left wingers , get a real life!

  • Morgancub
    June 4, 2010 at 12:23 p.m.

    just because u legalize pot won't mean u can use it.. the working class have to take drug test.. supposedly for safety and it would be a legitimate concern.. the insurance industry does have its boot at the throat of the work force... cigarettes are legal, but smokers are having a tough time finding a place to chill..

  • humble
    June 4, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    thuggetter the right side of your ass is showing again.

  • NickieD
    June 4, 2010 at 1 p.m.

    Oh Thug; I would expect a little more reasonable attitude from you. Where did you ever get an idea like Pot could overdose a person to death... even writing it makes me smile.
    morgan; Drugs have no place in the workplace... that's all drugs, even alcohol.
    I quit smoking cigs 6 years ago and people who still smoke do so in lieu of clear thinking. It doesn't do anything but make you smell bad, clog your lungs, yellow your teeth and there are always morons who think the world is their ashtray and must empty their car ashtray on the roadsides.
    If drugs were controlled and taxed (like cigs and alcohol) instead of a negitive expense playing at a "War on Drugs", the Gov't could have a positive income, a plus side to the Nat'l budget sheet instead of wasting money trying to get people to do something they are not inclined to do. It is just another form of prohibition and doomed to eventual failure.
    Legislation of morality is silly, wasteful and nonproductive.

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