AACF and ARAAP Shared Statement on Issues 6 & 7

Today Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) and the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ARAAP) are releasing this shared statement on the two 2016 ballot measures (Issue 6 and Issue 7) that would legalize medical marijuana if approved by Arkansas voters in November.

Our hearts go out to the Arkansas children, parents, and other family members with a loved one suffering from a chronic, life threatening, or debilitating medical condition. Whether it’s a child, a parent, or another family member who has the condition, we recognize the entire family is impacted by the emotional distress, the possible financial hardships, and other disruptions to their day-to-day lives that may be caused by such medical conditions.

As much as our heartstrings are pulled by the pain and suffering these families may be facing, we must decide our position on this issue on the basis of the available facts and research. Therefore, we oppose both Issue 6 and Issue 7. We believe they pose a potential threat to the health and safety of Arkansas children. Our position is based on the following facts, as outlined in a position statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

  • There are currently no published studies on the efficacy of the marijuana plant as a medication in children.
  • While there are preliminary studies that have shown standardized compounds in marijuana do help patients with some specific chronic conditions, these studies have not been conducted in standardized clinical trials with marijuana plants.
  • Marijuana edibles, particularly those that look like baked goods or candy, present a poisoning risk to children.
  • No drug should ever be administered through smoking. Smoking marijuana has a well-documented adverse effect on lung function.
  • Because marijuana is not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the purity and THC content cannot be consistently verified, the risk benefit cannot be determined.

Given these facts, we oppose medical marijuana outside the regulatory process of the FDA. However, we recognize there is anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids, which are components in marijuana, could benefit and provide relief to some children with chronic life-limiting and debilitating conditions. We support ongoing research on developing new pharmaceutical compounds containing cannabinoids. The legalization of medical marijuana, however, should not be approved in Arkansas until the health and safety risks and benefits for children can be scientifically assessed and justified by published and peer-reviewed research and approved by the FDA regulatory process.

For more information, contact Dr. Chad Rodgers, president, Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, at (501) 993-6982.

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The mission of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all children in Arkansas through advocacy, service, and professional support of its members.

 Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is a statewide, nonprofit child advocacy organization established in 1977. AACF’s mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential.