LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Arkansas voters will decide next week whether to legalize medical marijuana, but how could the program impact the state?
THV 11 News dives into other medical marijuana programs from Colorado and California to see their impact.
17 states and Washington D.C. currently use medical marijuana legally. A state that recently saw a boom in the medical marijuana community is Colorado. Chris Vanderveen with THV 11's sister station KUSA followed the story.
"You literally saw in Denver medical marijuana dispensaries pop up on a number of corners. There's places in Denver right now where you have dispensaries almost on every block. At some point, there was talk that there were more dispensaries than Starbucks," says Vanderveen.
Two major questions for the current Arkansas proposal ask, "How medical personnel will address the gray area of chronic diseases," and, "Who will regulate claims?" Colorado experienced a similar issue.
"Now it's obviously difficult to diagnose chronic pain, anyone conceivably can go into a doctor's office and tell their doctor they have pain and therefore get themselves on the registry," says Vanderveen.
THV 11 News reached out to the state attorney's office of California and they did not return our calls, but we did track down useful information from their website.
Californians register for a medical marijuana identification card through county government and currently there are more than 60,000 card holders. Registry spiked in 2009 at 12,000, but a federal crackdown on specific location and usage guidelines caused a dramatic decline. So far this year, California has only issued about 1,600 identification cards. Colorado has issued about 100,000 with identification cards, but experienced a different trend in their registry.
"Stereotypically, you would think it would be a younger persons game, but the average age on the medical marijuana right now is between 41 and 42," says Vanderveen.
The proposed Arkansas law would enable local governing powers to regulate dispensaries similarly to both California and Colorado.
"Each individual municipality has taken it upon themselves to regulate on a more local level. Therefore, you see some communities in the state of Colorado have decided to ban outright the dispensary models. They've told dispensaries you can't sell from this location," says Vanderveen.