CORRECTION: This story originally mistook a projection from the Arkansas Department of Health about when its rules and regulations will be finalized for when medical marijuana will actually be available to patients in the state. We regret the error.
CORRECTION: Future medical marijuana users will not have to pass a law enforcement background check but caregivers who are legally empowered to purchase and handle the drug therapy on the patient's behalf will.
The Arkansas Department of Health late Monday afternoon released a draft of the physician's written certification necessary for an Arkansan with one of the qualifying 18 conditions to get medical marijuana once the state's dispensaries are licensed and running.
Last month two spokeswomen for the department, Marisha DiCarlo and Meg Mirivel, said they expect their department to have finalized the rules and regulations regarding the product — medical marijuana — by the summer, though factors could delay that.
The document includes boxes for both the patient's and the physician's basic information and check boxes for 18 diseases and complaints from cancer and Alzheimer's to severe nausea and persistent muscle spasms. It also includes two checklist statements for the doctor to initial.
The first is "I have explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the qualifying patient."
The second is "It is my professional opinion, after having completed a full assessment of the patient's medical history and current medical condition in the course of a physician patient relationship, the patient has a qualifying medical condition identified below, and the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana for a total of [a number of days not to exceed 365] would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient."
With this tailored 'script' a patient would then seek to obtain a registry identification card unique to the medical marijuana infrastructure being built by the state and, eventually, private investors.
A registry ID card is only good for one year.
The next meeting of the Medical Marijuana Commission, charged with licensing cultivation facilities and dispensaries to private owners, is tomorrow at 3 p.m. at 1515 W. 7th St. in Little Rock.