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Medical professionals in Arkansas join marijuana system

LITTLE ROCK -- Several health care professionals are joining Arkansas' rising medical marijuana market, but many physicians remain hesitant or opposed to participating.

The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association is compiling a list of doctors willing to certify patients to use medical marijuana, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Dr. John House with the Eureka Springs Family Clinic said he's willing to sign the certifications because he sees medical marijuana as "legitimate health care." He said he recently certified several patients to use medical marijuana.

"There's been pain, HIV, cancer, a couple people with Parkinson's who have spasms," House said.

Other physicians say they're reluctant to prescribe marijuana because they can't control the particular variety of the plant or its extracts as they can with a prescription.

"That would make me very cautious about who I pursue this process with," said Dr. Greg Sharp, a professor in pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Sharp works with the Arkansas Children's Hospital and is researching how a marijuana-based compound called cannabidiol affects several seizure disorders.

An analysis from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has found that marijuana or individual compounds in the plant provide relief from pain, muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea induced by chemotherapy. It also found the drug can increase the risk of developing some mental health disorders.

Medical marijuana hasn't become legally available in the state yet, but state Health Department officials said almost 300 residents have been approved for their medical marijuana card.

State Desk on 08/01/2017

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