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story.lead_photo.caption This Sept. 11, 2018, file photo shows a marijuana plant in San Luis Obispo, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

A Republican lawmaker on Monday filed a bill that would more than triple the number of conditions that would allow a patient to use medical marijuana in Arkansas.

House Bill 1150, by Rep. Doug House, R-North Little Rock, would increase the number of qualifying conditions from 18 to 57. It would then also remove one condition — glaucoma.

House said he tried to generate a list that included all conditions that patients may use some formulation of cannabis components to treat. He said the legislation aims to keep patients or doctors from lying, so that a patient in need of a medical marijuana ID card can get one.

“We’re trying to keep it honest,” House said Monday.

Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution included 18 qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use in Arkansas. The amendment was approved by voters in 2016, but legal and regulatory delays have kept the program from being implemented.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of medical marijuana in Arkansas]

The first licensed growing began cultivating the drug last week, and the state selected the first companies to receive dispensary licenses. State officials expect the first dispensary to begin selling the drug in April.

HB 1150 would add the following 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

Little Rock attorney David Couch, who drafted Amendment 98, had a mixed reaction to the bill. He said he was glad that it would expand access to the drug for people who can benefit from it, but he said that glaucoma should remain a qualifying condition.

House said he decided to strike glaucoma after consulting with several ophthalmologists, who cautioned that cannabis — while providing temporary symptomatic relief — can ultimately cause glaucoma to worsen because it deprives the eye of oxygen and other nutrients.

Couch said that other ophthalmologists and optometrists would disagree.

“As with any medicine, there are risks and benefits, and the patient should be the one to decide if the risks outweigh the benefits to them,” Couch said.

House said he drafted the list of new conditions by listening to patients, looking at other states’ qualifying conditions and combing through medical research.

Melissa Fults, a prominent patient advocate, praised the legislation, saying it would expand access to patients who need cannabis.

In a perfect world, Fults said, glaucoma would remain a qualifying condition, but she said that most patients with glaucoma suffer from another qualifying condition.

“I’m OK trading [glaucoma] for the other 40,” Fults said.

Aside from legislative action, additional qualifying conditions may be added to Amendment 98’s list by petition to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The agency has received one petition asking for bipolar disorder to be added, but that request was denied.

Fults said the Health Department won’t approve any petitions for additional qualifying conditions.

House said that was probably true because the agency looks at existing medical research, which is scant in the U.S. because the drug remains federally illegal.

“That research doesn’t exist,” House said. “We’re relying on anecdotal evidence right now.”

House said he wasn’t sure how his bill will be received by a Legislature that in 2017 was mostly antagonistic toward medical cannabis.

Print Headline: Bill proposes to OK medical marijuana use for more conditions

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Archived Comments

  • LR1955
    January 15, 2019 at 6:34 a.m.

    ArDemGaz, you need commas separating the conditions in paragraphs 6-7.

  • BunnyW
    January 15, 2019 at 8:34 a.m.

    When my sister was visiting a professor in England, she was able to access their scholarly research that you cant access here in the US. Unfortunately she passed away last year so she cannot comment. But it does make me question if ALL the pertinent research is being looked at or if they are only looking at the US public research. We know the US govt does have secret research based on writings from some of the persons in the study who had special access to cannabis.

  • mrcharles
    January 15, 2019 at 9:24 a.m.

    Just take a look at your meds! It is scary of the side effects each one has. I take 13 and with the side effects it is a wonder that I still am able to keep on keeping on.

    How about a consenting adult choosing to take whatever meds they want if the meds in general are legal? I can choose not to have chemo if I want. Then why cant I choose to take a risk or not , with my particular ailment if I want.

    furthermore it seems that all spectrum's of political thinking generally are for what Genesis said we were given to use. Of course there are certain moralist that have been given insight denied to most of us, feel their decision what is right for you should be the way it is.

    Perhaps if all citizens could partake of this plant, maybe a get together of our duly elected representatives, matters could get handled in a less divisive way, that is after the doughnuts and munchies were consumed in mass quantities. Can you not see it, Congress ILKS laughing and making faces and following the little animals around the halls of congress.....but then the reefer madness crowd would make dire predictions of chaos and problems........... duh! what's the difference ?

  • Trailop
    January 15, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.

    That's a lot of conditions that would take years to do research on the efficacy of cannabis. The insomnia condition if passed would be an instant windfall for their political coffers.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    January 15, 2019 at 10:16 a.m.

    All the commissions and all the tax collectors know, you aint going to be able to afford this stuff anyway!

  • finleyandrayeturneryahoocom
    January 15, 2019 at 11:52 a.m.

    To date, I am aware of scientific studies that only confirm the use of marijuana as beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. There are numerous oral or non-scientific studies that support the use in other conditions. These studies are severely limited in reliability due to the significant number of false-positives recorded with few or no scientific srandards to compare against.This can lead to legalization of drugs which may not be safe. For example, a recent poll of ‘Minnesota Citizens revealed 51%had driven under the influence of marijuana and 21% were severely influenced on occasion when driving. These studies are not taken into account prior to passing legislation as the politics of marijuana (read that as revenue) is far ahead of the science.

  • Popsmith
    January 15, 2019 at 12:41 p.m.

    The University of Mississippi has been growing and researching marijuana on Federal grants since the 1960's. Why isn't this informatin available? Why is no one using it?

  • whydoyouask
    January 15, 2019 at 12:46 p.m.

    Sounds like Minnesota has a bunch of pot heads...

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    January 15, 2019 at 1:06 p.m.

    So if you were really "free" you would be able to go out into your yard and eat the kings grass.
    But no..
    All the kings and all the kings men...

  • Eyetrytoo
    January 15, 2019 at 1:56 p.m.

    While I have never taken a puff off a joint in my life. I do believe that cannabis can be a very beneficial medication. Sadly though, with all the administrative costs and the regulations that the State of Arkansas has put on its future growing, distribution and sale this is only going to raise the cost to consumers, to the point that poorer patients, who could benefit medically from it will not be able to afford it. Thus only those with substantial incomes will benefit from any medical benefits it might provide.This is NOT a medication that insurance or government assistance is going to help patients pay for. To bring the cost down will require cannabis becoming legal for recreational use, and then increasing the number of growers and providers and allowing the increased demand to create more competition among growers and providers, and eventually this will cause a reduction in price. But only if state government does not continue to apply more taxes and regulations than are currently scheduled to be in effect.

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