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Bill seeks to add more qualifying conditions to Arkansas medical marijuana amendment

(Photo: KATV)

Arkansas's medical marijuana amendment already covers 18 different diseases and ailments, but one lawmaker is seeking to more than triple the number of qualifying medical conditions.

Rep. Douglas House (R-North Little Rock) filed HB 1150 last month, initially removing glaucoma from the list of qualifying conditions, but adding 39 other conditions to Amendment 98. House said he has since modified his bill to re-include glaucoma.

House said he was approached by a group of constituents that claim to use cannabis to treat their various ailments and conditions.

"I told them to give me a list of the conditions that their people suffer from that they were using cannabis products for, let me have it and we'll take it to the legislature, explain the problem and see if we could get them added to the list," said House.

Amendment 98 provides the Arkansas Department of Health with a mechanism to allow citizens to petition for new qualifying conditions. House claims the petition process is impossible, saying it requires scientific studies that don't exist.

"There's not going to be any medical studies," said House. "The federal government has prohibited medical studies for years and years."

Dr. Nate Smith, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said many of the diseases and conditions that are being sought in House's bill are lacking studies - period.

"For some of these conditions, they are rare conditions, and there's not a lot of evidence for any form of treatment," said Smith.

According to ADH, there has only been one attempted petition that tried to get bipolar effective disorder added to the list of qualifying conditions. Smith said the petition was rejected because it appeared that, "not only was there insufficient evidence of benefit, but there was some pretty deep concerns about harm for using marijuana in that context."

"Most of these [conditions] have never been reviewed, and no decisions were made on them," said Smith.

While there's a lack of scientific evidence regarding marijuana treatment of certain diseases and conditions, Smith said there has been evidence of marijuana treating the symptoms of those ailments. Conditions like severe nausea and intractable pain have been shown to be more manageable with cannabis, but Smith said those ailments are already listed as qualifying conditions.

Current Qualifying Medical Conditions:

cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months, severe nausea, seizures including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

Proposed Additions to Qualifying Medical Conditions:

adiposis dolorosa or Dercum'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

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