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Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will conduct a first-of-its-kind survey to gauge Arkansans' perceptions of medical marijuana before and after it's available for use in the Natural State.

Representatives from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and McGill universities approached UAMS researchers last year about the survey opportunity. Although 28 other states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, surveyors have never before gathered base line data on public perception of medical pot before it's legalized.

Arkansans voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2016, and a state commission plans to award cultivation facility licenses later this month before doing the same for dispensary licenses later in the year.

Dr. William Fantegrossi, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at UAMS' College of Medicine, said the survey should provide data on a variety of questions, including: Why do some people want to use medical marijuana? How effective do they expect it to be? Do they expect any adverse side effects?

"It will be very interesting to revisit this in a few years when these same people have been using medical cannabis themselves or will know others who have been using it," Fantegrossi said.

The data, he added, may one day enable researchers to make evidence-based recommendations about the effectiveness of different cannabis-derived products for specific conditions.

The survey's initial funding ($30,000) comes from 7-Hybrid Cultivation -- a group applying to operate a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Van Buren County.

The group -- which bills itself as the only applicant to have a publicly confirmed banking relationship approved by regulators -- has also pledged to spend up to $500,000 annually on in-state medical cannabis research if its cultivation license is approved.

"While there was no guarantee that our group would be awarded a license, the window of opportunity was closing for Arkansas, so in August 2017, we just knew we had to fund this research," said Linda Joan Warren, a member of 7-Hybrid Cultivation.

Many cultivation facility applicants included pledges in their applications to fund research or charitable endeavors.

The scoring system being used to evaluate applications includes opportunities for bonus points if groups can demonstrate positive ways they'll benefit their local communities.

The UAMS survey is open to Arkansans over age 18 regardless of whether they plan to use medical marijuana. It can be found at tinyurl.com/armedcannabis.

It takes about 20 minutes to complete, asking participants about their personal mental and physical health and perceptions about cannabis.

Dr. Nalin Payakachat, associate professor at UAMS' Department of Pharmacy Practice, said follow-up surveys will be conducted every six months for the next five years to track how perceptions of medical pot change over time.

What changes do they expect?

"We don't know," Payakachat said, adding that that's the unique data this study should provide. However, she added that when medical marijuana is introduced, the public perception of harmful effects typically decreases over time.

As for any conflicts of interest because the survey is being funded by a pro-medical marijuana group, Payakachat said internal and external reviews will be conducted to ensure that no results are influenced by funding sources.

SundayMonday on 02/12/2018

Print Headline: Public's views on legal pot get look; Changes in state are study’s focus

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Comments

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  • EREDDING
    February 12, 2018 at 5:36 a.m.

    Won't it be nice when the cartels take over the pot industry in the US , as if they haven't already.

  • brothom
    February 12, 2018 at 8:15 a.m.

    Lol. Bet they won’t ask me to take the survey. Most Arkansans are ignorant and care nothing about what GOD would prefer they do and think about marijuana and the legalization of all harmful drugs. As for me and my house we will serve THE LORD. “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:5. Marijuana, many other herbs and especially plants like tobacco, cocoa, and poppies, are not good things. They are part of the devil’s plan to harm people, enslave them and to thwart the purpose of GOD. The Apostle Paul wrote to those in Corinth who were dealing with similar issues “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” 1 Corinthians 10:23. I realize most who see this comment will look at me as some Bible thumping Jesus freak who is out of touch with reality, but those who have ears to hear will hear what The Spirit of GOD is saying to the Church. This is a secular matter mostly, and the world is going to do what the world will do. That’s the reason I doubt that those giving this survey will ever ask me to participate. I want nothing to do with this world. GOD is my King. I’ll just pray for all who support this evil of legalizing marijuana and all such bad things. Blessings to you all.

  • pxewytch
    February 12, 2018 at 11:16 a.m.

    My suggestion to you brothom is to do your own research. The DEVIL is not in Cannabis nor do the people who use it serve him. Its people like you that spew bull crap and dont even have a clue what your spewing about.
    Let me give you an idea of what harms people.. IGNORANCE that harms people. I almost died on Prescription meds that doctors gave me. Ya, legal things. I chose to use Cannabis and now I am prescription free and able to get out and enjoy life.

  • RRRRRRRRRR
    February 12, 2018 at 11:33 a.m.

    Some are said to be able to live on air and sunshine alone. Maybe you are one of those.

    Or, on the other hand, you may be one who derives his sustenance from the judgement of others.

    I thought the Bible taught that God gave man dominion over all life on Earth, both plant and animal.

    So you have a problem with Genesis 1:29 in which Jehovah states, "I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the the whole Earth and every fruit that has seed in it. They will be yours for food." (NIV)

    There are many first hand accounts of people being cured of cancer worldwide by treatment with cannabis.

    Who are you to say that it is not a gift from the Almighty?

  • Illinoisroy
    February 12, 2018 at 12:38 p.m.

    Really, didn't God make cannabis? Would be able to save considerable money and lives if drugs where legalized and regulated. Of course law enforcement and prisons would have to cut ranks. Cartels and gang bangers would lose incentive when profit margins go down and they actually have to operate as respectable business. Wake up and be true Americans who believe in life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Peace and love, WWJD brothel.

  • condoleezza
    February 12, 2018 at 12:58 p.m.

    What would be nice is if this paper could learn to use the correct terminology, "cannabis," rather than slang words like "pot" or "marijuana." It's kind of like referring to a newspaper as a "rag." Slang words often portray a bias.

  • RRRRRRRRRR
    February 12, 2018 at 7:01 p.m.

    Amen on that, markbeggs.

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