by Max Brantley
Our hearts go out to the Arkansas children, parents, and other family members with a loved one suffering from a chronic, life threatening, or debilitating medical condition. Whether it’s a child, a parent, or another family member who has the condition, we recognize the entire family is impacted by the emotional distress, the possible financial hardships, and other disruptions to their day-to-day lives that may be caused by such medical conditions.
As much as our heartstrings are pulled by the pain and suffering these families may be facing, we must decide our position on this issue on the basis of the available facts and research. Therefore, we oppose both Issue 6 and Issue 7. We believe they pose a potential threat to the health and safety of Arkansas children. Our position is based on the following facts, as outlined in a position statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
There are currently no published studies on the efficacy of the marijuana plant as a medication in children.
While there are preliminary studies that have shown standardized compounds in marijuana do help patients with some specific chronic conditions, these studies have not been conducted in standardized clinical trials with marijuana plants.
Marijuana edibles, particularly those that look like baked goods or candy, present a poisoning risk to children.
No drug should ever be administered through smoking. Smoking marijuana has a well-documented adverse effect on lung function.
Because marijuana is not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the purity and THC content cannot be consistently verified, the risk benefit cannot be determined.
Given these facts, we oppose medical marijuana outside the regulatory process of the FDA. However, we recognize there is anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids, which are components in marijuana, could benefit and provide relief to some children with chronic life-limiting and debilitating conditions. We support ongoing research on developing new pharmaceutical compounds containing cannabinoids. The legalization of medical marijuana, however, should not be approved in Arkansas until the health and safety risks and benefits for children can be scientifically assessed and justified by published and peer-reviewed research and approved by the FDA regulatory process.
The newly amended AAP resolution also acknowledges that certain types of cannabinoid-therapy may provide benefits to adolescents, particularly those patient populations with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy and chronic seizures. It states, “The AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.”
What a disappointment from an organization whose mission is to advocate for children and families. The press release states, “we recognize there is anecdotal evidence” that marijuana “could benefit and provide relief to some children with chronic life-limiting and debilitating conditions” What they mean by that statement is that there are thousands of parents across this country, including many in this state, who have given their children marijuana so that they will eat while undergoing chemotherapy (and not die) or so that they will stop having seizures (and not die). Opposing this is how one advocates for children and families?
This organization has crawled into bed with the Chamber of Commerce who by the way opposes most of the issues and policies that this organization advocates for. Why does this organization want parents in Arkansas whose children and families benefit from this medicine to continue to have to buy from drug dealers and be criminals? Is the purity and THC content of marijuana purchased from a drug dealer consistently verified? Is incarcerating a family member arrested for buying marijuana for their sick child a good policy?
The release shows a total lack of knowledge about this issue and Issue 6 in particular. First, Issue 6 would require that the purity and THC content of marijuana be verified. Second, Issue 6 does not allow edibles unless approved by the regulatory authority with the oversight of the General Assembly. Third, very few patients especially children “smoke” marijuana. There are many other ways to take this medicine without smoking.