BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - A new billboard popped up for drivers to see on Interstate 30 Eastbound in Bryant. The message is clear; patients who are qualified for Arkansas’s new medical marijuana program can get their approvals through a new website.
“The physicians are not available. The patients are not coming forward and there's a disconnect for this program from being successful,” said Dr. Phillip Din, an internist who practices in Arkansas and Upstate New York.
He’s the man who created EvergreenArkansas.com and put up the billboard to advertise it.
“I felt that there were several concerning things for patients in Arkansas,” said Dr. Din. “I kind of saw that the options are not really readily accessible for patients of Arkansas. I thought it's best to kind of get involved and maybe do whatever I can.”
Dr. Din does not list a phone number or his name on the website, so figuring out the people behind the business took some digging. He said there’s a great deal of peer pressure within the medical establishment chilling doctors out from participating in the program. That’s partly why he remains confidential on the site, though he had no problem speaking with us via videophone.
"You know I'm not sure what kind of attention I'll get," the doctor said. "Maybe they'll get rid of my medical license."
But all joking aside, Din feels like he's legally covered.
An applicant fills out an online form, Din and his assistant schedule an appointment. They check medical history and check for medication allergies. That usually leads to Dr. Din signing off. Prices are clearly marked, with the visit at $150 and other fees $75.
Critics worry doctors like Din could take advantage of desperate patients, but he counters that argument.
“I really hope that by putting the price out there for everybody it forces all doctors and participants to just drop their price,” he said, adding the prices he charges are just enough to cover the costs of the billboard, the website and his one assistant.
That assistant is an Iraqi War veteran who has been advocating for medical marijuana to help service members with post traumatic stress disorder.