Have you tried to buy Sudafed™ lately? Their behind-the-counter decongestant is great, but it’s also a hassle to purchase. You have to show ID, meet age requirements, and fill out paperwork, because they don’t want people misusing its active ingredient—pseudoephedrine—to manufacture drugs or for other unintended purposes.
But the truth is under the medical marijuana law coming up for a vote this November, it will arguably be easier to acquire marijuana than Sudafed™. The reason? There will only be about 30 marijuana dispensaries throughout the state of Arkansas—not even enough to put one in every county. What does this law say you can do if you live more than five miles from a dispensary? It says you can grow your own.
The ballot proposal says that there will only be one marijuana dispensary for every 25 pharmacies in Arkansas; since there are roughly 700 pharmacies in the state, there will only be about 30 marijuana dispensaries.
With only two and a half dozen dispensaries scattered throughout the state, it’s a safe bet that most Arkansans will have a bit of a drive to get to a dispensary. The law “solves” this problem by stating that any patient who lives more than five miles from a dispensary may grow their own marijuana at home.
So if you want something to treat your sinuses, you may have to go to a pharmacist, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and limit your purchase. But if you want marijuana, you may only have to walk out to your backyard.
Incidentally, for those who do live within five miles of a dispensary, they should know that dispensaries are not the same as pharmacies. If this law passes, marijuana will be the only prescription drug which is not filled by a pharmacist, is not subject to the very same standards as pharmaceutical drugs, and which patients are authorized to produce on their own.
Does any of this sound like it has the patient’s best interests in mind? And what about our communities? If word gets out that a person is growing marijuana, won’t that make his or her home awfully inviting to thieves and burglars? Would you want to live next door to a backyard marijuana-greenhouse?
Even with restrictions on prescription drugs, we still have problems with fraudulent prescriptions and patients selling drugs prescribed by a doctor; imagine how much more trouble we would have if those prescriptions allowed people to manufacture drugs at home. Unless the Department of Health checks every person with a prescription on a routine basis, how can they possibly know if a person is or is not selling their home-grown marijuana to someone else? Answer: They can’t.
Even people who support medical marijuana should agree there’s a right way and wrong way to pursue a drug’s medicinal properties. The right way is through changes in restrictions at the federal level; clinical testing by the scientific and medical communities; FDA approval; and finally through pharmacists and doctors. The wrong way is through faulty legislation like the current ballot proposal.