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Who would have thought a few years ago that a discussion would be held in Magnolia about not the cons and pros of marijuana but what happens now that state voters have approved the substance’s medical use?

Of course, who would have thought in the not too distant past that it would be legal to walk into a store and buy alcohol in Magnolia?

We bring up the subject today with no editorial opinion on either side of alcohol or marijuana issues, but to observe that the times they are a-changing, and one of the most dramatic changes was discussed here in a meeting.

A recent Banner-News article reported the comments of Jason Martin and Brian Madar who came to Magnolia to speak at the monthly meeting of the Columbia County HEALTH Coalition. The two are co-founders of the hemp-based health product company, Tree of Life Seeds, and the medical cannabis culivation business, Natural State of Kind.

Madar described how, after repeated unsuccessful medical attempts to prevent seizures being suffered by his son that accumulated the family more than $750,000 in expenses, they went out of state to seek marijuana treatment. As reported in the Banner-News article, Madar said that, combined with small dosages of anti-seizure medication, the family found a virtual cure in cannabis and its derivatives such as cannabidiol oil.

It would seem hard to argue with success stories such as that, but there are questions about the impact legalized medical marijuana will have on communities such as ours.

Their audience that included health care professionals and soon-to-be members of the health care profession, had questions about non-medical use of marijuana and effects in the workplace of medical use by employees. They said they’re in the business to help people in medical need, not “stoners,” and Martin said, “Obviously, if someone is driving children or trucks, or in the business of safety, then anything with THC (the ingredient that causes a high) is not an option.”

Another question that could pose a sticky problem for state leaders is what will happen if the U.S. Department of Justice decides to prosecute sellers of medical marijuana. Despite Arkansas voters approving the measure, the use still violates federal statutes.

The Banner-News article, noting that law enforcement agencies argue an increase in accessibility to marijuana will lead to more arrests for DUI and heavier usage among young people, reported that Captain Kevin Russell of the Benton Police Department will speak on the subject at a future HEALTH Coalition meeting.

More questions will arise, we’re certain, as the state prepares to allow the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana.

Information events such as this are useful in helping learn more about the issue as we proceed into a new, foreign territory for Arkansans.

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