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Rx card event 

A Medicinal Purpose, an Arkansas company established this year to provide physician evaluations for patients seeking a medical marijuana card that entitles them to legally buy and use cannabis to treat health conditions, will hold an evaluation event from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 23 at the Holiday Inn, 10920 Financial Center Parkway.

Patients seeking evaluation must be 18 years old, able to prove their Arkansas residency with a state-issued I.D. or driver's license and must bring copies of medical records proving they have been diagnosed by a physician with one of the qualifying conditions or symptoms included in the Arkansas medical cannabis law, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, Crohn's disease, Tourette's syndrome, ulcerative colitis, post-traumatic stress syndrome, debilitating arthritis, wasting syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain that has persisted for more than six months despite medical treatment, or seizures or conditions causing severe muscle spasms and/or severe nausea.

Dr. Ivy McGee, a family medicine doctor who practices in Bryant and is one of the founding partners of A Medicinal Purpose, will evaluate potential medical marijuana cardholders. The evaluation fee is $150. Patients who qualify for a medical marijuana card, which is issued by the state Department of Health, must be re-evaluated by a physician every year to reauthorize their eligibility.

Patients can also request a private evaluation at the A Medicinal Purpose website, amedicinalpurpose.org. Once the physician evaluation form is signed, patients have 30 days to apply for a medical cannabis card through the health department at healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/id-card-apply-online.

Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson is pushing to make marijuana arrests and investigations a low priority in Little Rock. Richardson emailed a sample ordinance from Fayetteville to that effect to his fellow members on the city board, and said he hopes to take up the issue in January. "This email from me and the accompanying ordinance is long overdue," he wrote fellow directors. "I believe the merits of an ordinance like this go without saying."

He also cited some statistics in the email: "In September of 2016, I asked staff to provide data for five years documenting the number of misdemeanor marijuana arrests where that was the only violation. The number of arrests in Little Rock increased from 68 in 2011 to 225 in 2016. The total number of arrests during that timeframe was 928. That is a dramatic increase. That increase was dramatic enough for us to make national news.

"A November 21 article in The Washington Times noted that the increase in arrests from 2012 to 2016 was 95%. Without conducting a mapping of these arrests, I would guess the lion's share of these arrests occurred south of I-630 and Southwest Little Rock."

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active ingredient in cannabis — and the one whose effects science knows the most about. But, marijuana has over 80 cannabinoids that bind to brain receptors. Beyond THC, the most talked about one is cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not have the psychoactive effects of marijuana but is being tested as a drug.

It's still too early to say for sure what CBD does or if it works as a vitamin. But it's not illegal to purchase products labeled "CBD only" in Arkansas, and vendors are selling it, both online and in dispensaries, in the form of oils, creams and drops that supposedly give relief to such things as arthritis.

At the recent Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo at the Statehouse Convention Center, one company showed a slew of these products, even offering gummy bears to folks to sample and dog treats for their pooches.

Still, the FDA frowns on companies that make health claims on their CBD oil product labels, and has written warning letters to stop making such claims to companies including That's Natural!, Stanley Brothers, Natural Alchemist and Green Roads Health (find more information on the fda.gov website).

Consumer warning: The website Leafly.com says there may not be CBD in your CBD products. The only states in which you can be sure products contain CBD are where the products are regulated and tested: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. As Leafly says, "Outside of those four states, consumers must put their trust in the manufacturer."

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