Arkansas Researchers Get $1.3 Million Grant To Study The Effect Of Medical Marijuana

The National Institute of Drug abuse has granted the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences $1.3 million to study the effect of medical marijuana in the state. The news came just after a nonprofit organization from Arkansas reported that more than 20,000 people have voted for the legalization of the use of recreational marijuana.

In a study titled, "Population-Based Analyses of Healthcare Utilization and Outcomes in Users of Medical Marijuana", the researchers are attempting to analyze the health records of the medical marijuana users in the state to come t a comprehensive understanding of the effect of medical marijuana in user health. The study is also going to take the effect of the COVID pandemic on marijuana usage into account.

ACHI president and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson, co-principal investigator on this study, said, "This is an exciting and unique opportunity for not only our state but also the country, to investigate the effectiveness of cannabis for therapeutic use. While researchers have gathered scientific evidence on the use of cannabis for the alleviation of symptoms such as pain and anxiety, there is little evidence on how the amount, strain, potency, and method of use affect a person's health experience."

The state's existing marijuana system allows 80,000 patients of 18 health conditions access to medical marijuana through three dozen dispensaries since May 2019. According to reports, the users have spent more than $400 million to buy 60,000 pounds of the drug.

The study will use various data sources like the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), Arkansas Department of Health medical marijuana patient registry data, dispensary purchase data, and also the state police's motor vehicle crash data to analyze the effect of medical marijuana in the state. Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain said, "The APCD is a dynamic tool that promotes transparency in healthcare data, and by combining these datasets, our state can assess specific health outcomes, including inpatient and outpatient care visits, emergency visits, opioid usage, and new health diagnosis."

Jesse Rafael, the spokesperson of Arkansas True Grass nonprofit organization said that they have already collected 20,000 signatures in support of the use of recreational marijuana. They need around 70,000 more votes by next June to get the proposal to the ballot. According to Jesse, the number of dispensaries is way too less compared to the demand for the substance. This, coupled with the fact that people with usage licenses can't grow their own plants has hyped the prices. Arkansas is presently one of the 36 states in the country that has legalized some form of marijuana.

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