Arkansas pharmacists oppose medical marijuana initiative

story from Talk Business, a TCW content partner

The Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA) said it will oppose the “Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act” because the proposal does not incorporate pharmacists and due to conflicts with federal law.

The group left the door open to potential future support for a medical marijuana measure under a different scenario.

“The APA opposes this Act as it is currently written,” it said. “APA’s position on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act should not be construed as directly supporting or opposing the legalization of marijuana; rather, the position reflects directly the question that will be placed before Arkansas voters in November.”

“The APA believes that if marijuana is legalized in Arkansas, pharmacists should be the healthcare professionals who dispense the medication, not unlicensed, untrained individuals who work in ‘marijuana dispensaries,’” said APA Executive Vice President Mark Riley. “Pharmacists are highly educated healthcare professionals who understand the pharmacology of medications, including marijuana.  There are Arkansas licensed pharmacies in 74 of Arkansas’s 75 counties providing access for patients throughout the state.”

Arkansas pharmacies and pharmacists are highly regulated by the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the non-profit dispensaries that would be created by the passage of the act would not be regulated by the state board, the APA said.

“With lack of such extensive oversight, patient safety and the security of the drug itself may be in jeopardy,” the APA said.

The pharmacists’ group said passage of the law would place Arkansas squarely at odds with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration regulations that classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled-substance.

“If Arkansas wishes to legalize marijuana, then the first step should be to pursue DEA regulatory changes to declassify marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance,” the APA said.