Jerry's Blog

Family Council to Unveil Voter’s Guide Monday

Since 1990 Family Council has been Arkansas’ leading source for nonpartisan information on candidates. This Monday we will unveil our 2014 Arkansas Voter’s Guide for the upcoming primary elections on May 20.

This year Family Council surveyed Democratic and Republican candidates who have opposition in the upcoming primary on key issues including abortion, balancing the federal budget, education, energy, marijuana, marriage, Medicaid expansion, Obamacare, and the Second Amendment.

The guide will include candidates for state and federal offices. Check out at 5:00pm on Monday to see the 2014 Arkansas Voter’s Guide, and call our office at 501-375-7000 for more information.

Does the Arkansas Lottery Plan to Market to College Kids?

The Arkansas Lottery Commission voted yesterday to authorize monitor games despite objections from Arkansas lawmakers. That was a very controversial move, but another decision by the commission is receiving much less attention: The decision to pursue marketing in conjunction with Arkansas’ colleges and universities.

According to the Associated Press, Lottery Director Bishop Woosley says the lottery might sell Arkansas Razorback-themed lottery tickets and advertise the lottery at college sporting events. For a lottery that rolled out more gambling in its first two months than other states did in five years, a Razorback scratch-off ticket may not sound like much; the bigger question is does this vote allow the Arkansas Lottery to do more “marketing” on college campuses than Woosley let on?

Arkansas Code Section 23-115-402 (b) states:

This chapter does not prohibit the [lottery] commission from designating certain of its agents and employees to sell or give tickets or shares directly to the public.

Arkansas Code Section 23-115-601 Subdivision (f)(5)(B)(vii)(b) states:

[T]his section does not preclude the [lottery] commission from selling or giving away tickets or shares for promotional purposes.

Finally, concerning lottery ticket retailers, Arkansas Code Section 23-115-402 (c) states:

Subject to prior approval by the commission, retailers may give away tickets or shares as a means of promoting goods or services to customers or prospective customers.

So under the enabling legislation that established the Arkansas Lottery Commission in 2009, the commission can sell or give away lottery tickets for promotional purposes, and retailers may (with the commission’s blessing) give away tickets as well.

This raises a question: Does the Arkansas Lottery Commission plan to “promote” the Arkansas Lottery by giving away free lottery tickets on college campuses? (more…)

New Study: Even Casual Marijuana-Use Damages Brain

The popular notion that marijuana is largely harmless has led many people to shrug at efforts to legalize the drug across the country. A groundbreaking study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, however, shows that even casual marijuana-use carries serious implications.

The Boston Globe reports:

Young adults who occasionally smoke marijuana show abnormalities in two key areas of their brain related to emotion, motivation, and decision making, raising concerns that they could be damaging their developing minds at a critical time, according to a new study by Boston researchers.

Other studies have revealed brain changes among heavy marijuana users, but this research is believed to be the first to demonstrate such abnormalities in young, casual smokers.

The study examined forty young adults ages 18 to 25. Of the forty participants, half reported using marijuana at least once a week while the other half reported not having used marijuana in the past year as well as indicating they had smoked marijuana fewer than five times in their lives. This allowed researchers to compare casual marijuana users with non-users.

What they found was marijuana-use affects brain development–even among casual users–and that the amount of marijuana a casual user smoked directly affected the brain, with heavier users showing more brain abnormalities.

As we have written before, chronic or heavy marijuana use has been linked to deficiencies in cognitive function, schizophrenia, stroke, and even death. This latest study, however, takes that research a step further, linking even moderate marijuana-use with negative consequences.

This raises a serious question: If even casual marijuana use has negative effects on the brain, how can marijuana be used safely as medicine? If using marijuana as little as a few times a week affects a person’s emotions and impairs their judgment, how can a person use “medical” marijuana at all without suffering cognitively?