by Cassie Stafford
The Izard County Republican Committee held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 15 at 6 p.m. at the Melbourne Community Church.
Dorothy Grochowski read the October minutes. The Treasurer’s Report was given. The committee had $759.49 in their account and received $50 towards dues for two new members that joined the night of the meeting.
The committee decided to make a decision about filing fees at their December 12 meeting. The filing fees are used to support candidates for their election. Also in December, the committee will collect dues. The cost is $25 per person for two years.
Trevor Drown, candidate for Treasurer of State, will be the guest speaker at the January 9 meeting. Tommy Land, candidate for Commissioner of Land, will speak at the February 13 meeting. The committee is working on getting a speaker about the Federal Reserves for the December meeting.
Mark Herrington spoke to the committee and guests about the benefits of having a medical marijuana dispensary in Izard County and the use of medical marijuana. “Honestly and truly, it’s a drug just like any other drug, it’s just not thought of in the same light. It has benefits and it has drawbacks. From what I’ve seen, there are a lot of people who, particularly, when they get to the end stages of their life, things don’t work the way they should. Medicine doesn’t help with the pain, it doesn’t help with appetite, it doesn’t make their quality of life that they have left, much of anything,” said Herrington.
Herrington has been involved in the application process for an extended period. “I can tell you there are a lot of questions that nobody knows the answers to.” The application process was very involved and invasive. Application page count has ranged from several dozen to over 2,000.
He said that at this time people are not even sure where their supply will be coming from due to the fact that people applying for cultivation had to apply at the same time as people applying for a dispensary.
According to the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, there were 95 cultivation applications received and 227 dispensary applications. In Zone 2, which covers Izard and Fulton County, there were four applications received for cultivation and 17 for dispensaries; including one application for cultivation and two for dispensaries in Izard County. Sharp County is included in Zone 3 and had two application for cultivation and three for dispensaries submitted.
Herrington explained that his personal opinion on legalizing marijuana for medical use is a very positive thing because it eliminates underhanded use. He said he thinks that it will be highly monitored and supervised for the entire state by, the way he understands it, the Federal Government and not the State Government. “Which is another thing that brings up a lot of problems, I think that is where a lot of the drawbacks to this are coming from, the Federal Level,” said Herrington.
A person will not be able to go to a pharmacy to pick up marijuana, there will be separate facilities. “My facility that I am proposing is going to be set up exactly like a pharmacy and I’m going to have a semi-retired pharmacist run it,” Herrington stated. The dispensary will be regulated by the Federal Government unlike a pharmacy that is State regulated.
Herrington said, “As far as positive benefits, I think it has a lot of them. I think it is safer than a lot of drugs.” Alcohol and pain pills are much harder on your body than marijuana. “You hardly ever hear of anyone that gets used to marijuana, so I think it is a good thing and a lot less toxic to your body, long term and short term, than the majority of the medications that we have to offer you.”
Herrington has been at his pharmacy in Melbourne for 22 years and the number of people addicted to medications in all age groups has astounded him. “It’s pretty sad, but addiction doesn’t have an age boundary, from old enough to buy it themselves to so old that they can’t go and get it themselves. I’m hoping from my standpoint and from a medical standpoint, that given this option about marijuana, it will help some of that.”
He explained that he thinks medical marijuana will be cheaper than the current system to the taxpayers due to spending less time and money on treatments of people and hospital stays. The medicine that is used now is almost as bad as the diseases themselves due to the side effects and many people end up in the hospital because of them. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to prolong someone’s life a lot longer, but you’ll make whatever they have a lot more comfortable.” He does not think that insurance or government agencies will cover the cannabis, that it will be purchased by cash only.
“Instead of running away from it and saying it’s a bad thing, I think we need to look at it and say, ‘Hey, if you keep hiding it, all it’s ever going to be is negative’. You can get some positive out of it if you choose to and I think it is a good thing. I think even if it was made recreational, it would be healthier than people drinking or popping pills. A lot of people disagree with that, but as far as physically, I’m going to tell you it would be. Marijuana is good,” Herrington concluded.