Bill Filed to Protect Mental Health Patients From Inappropriate Marijuana Certification

Recently Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) and Sen. David Wallace (R – Leachville) filed H.B. 1566 at the Arkansas Legislature.

This good bill requires marijuana certifications written for mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s to be issued by a board-certified psychiatrist or neurologist.

Arkansas’ medical marijuana amendment contains a long list of qualifying conditions for which a person can use marijuana, including post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s.

Under current law, any physician can certify a patient to use marijuana for PTSD or Alzheimer’s regardless of the physician’s training and experience with mental health.

H.B. 1566 would require the doctor to be a board-certified psychiatrist or neurologist in order to write a marijuana certification for these mental illnesses.

It would not stop other physicians from writing marijuana certifications for other qualifying conditions.

This bill will protect mental health patients from receiving an inappropriate certification to use marijuana.

Last year an Arkansas abortionist drew attention for inappropriately certifying a 12-year-old psychiatric patient to use medical marijuana.

When the girl’s psychiatrists learned the abortionist had certified their patient to use marijuana, they filed a complaint with the Arkansas State Medical Board.

An Expert Reviewer’s Report requested by the medical board concluded that the doctor acted in a grossly negligent manner in diagnosing the child and certifying her to use medical marijuana.

The Arkansas State Medical Board suspended the abortionist’s medical license in August. In December the board reinstated his license on the condition that he not certify minors to use medical marijuana.

A cannabis clinic in Heber Springs has issued statements saying that H.B. 1566 “will destroy the ARMMJ [Arkansas Medical Marijuana] program.”

But anyone who understands the bill knows this is not true. You can read H.B. 1566 here.

Arkansas House Passes Good Bill Addressing Marijuana Advertising

On Tuesday the Arkansas House of Representatives passed H.B. 1353 addressing medical marijuana advertising in Arkansas.

This good bill by Rep. Delia Haak (R – Gentry) and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) says that marijuana dispensaries and cultivators cannot use a cross of any color or other symbols commonly associated with the practice of medicine in their advertisements.

Current state law says marijuana dispensaries and cultivators cannot use medical symbols in signs on their property, but it fails to address other types of advertising.

H.B. 1353 closes this loophole in state law.

The bill passed with 78 votes in the Arkansas House; only nine representatives voted against the bill.

The measure now goes to the Arkansas Senate.

See how your state representative voted here.

Proposal Would Address Marijuana Possession, Transportation, and Use

On Monday Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) filed H.B. 1525 concerning the unlawful possession, transportation, and use of medical marijuana in Arkansas.

The bill prohibits a person from being under the influence of marijuana in public or at a marijuana dispensary or marijuana cultivation facility.

It clarifies that it is unlawful for a person to use marijuana by inhalation in a place where marijuana is prohibited by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.

It also imposes penalties for possessing more marijuana than Arkansas’ medical marijuana amendment allows.

And it makes it a crime to transport medical marijuana into Arkansas from another state.

Right now, Arkansas law prohibits marijuana use in public, and it says that a person cannot be intoxicated by marijuana while at a marijuana dispensary or cultivation facility. State law also prohibits smoking of medical in public or if the user is under 21 years of age.

But Arkansas law does not contain penalties for violating some of these medical marijuana laws, and current law may not adequately address all the ways marijuana can be consumed by inhalation.

H.B. 1525’s broader language and penalties could help address these inadequacies in state law.

Time and again healthcare professionals have found a link between marijuana and serious health problems.

A study just published in JAMA Pediatrics found that heavy cannabis use among adolescents and young adults with mood disorders is “associated with an elevated risk of self-harm, overall mortality, and death by unintentional overdose and homicide.”

A 2019 study found that marijuana legalization has been linked to psychosis, suicide, and other substance abuse.

And a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s publication JAMA Psychiatry found exposure to marijuana during pregnancy was associated with psychotic behaviors, weaker cognitive abilities, and other problems in children.

All of this underscores what we have said for years: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.