Medical marijuana patients push for dispensaries to open in NWA, help opioid crisis

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The first two medical marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas have sold over 26 pounds of the product since opening last week.

Doctor’s Orders RX and Green Springs Medical opened in Hot Springs, ringing in more than 2,000 transactions combined.

Medical marijuana patients are hoping dispensaries in Northwest Arkansas are open soon to help with the opioid crisis.

“My whole life has been affected by my illnesses, and the medical marijuana will help me much more than those opioids ever have,” says Shelley Welch, who lives in Decatur.

For those suffering from chronic pain, managing it can be a daily struggle.

“I have oxycodone and I take two pills a day…you will never get rid of the pain, but it makes it easier to deal with throughout your day,” Welch said.

Welch received her medical marijuana ID card a month in a half ago for her diabetes, heart issues, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, and nausea.

She’s hoping it will help put her prescribed opioids aside. “I would put the pain pills down in a heartbeat because the pain pills affect you in so many different ways. Anyone that takes those pain pills, they know what I’m talking about.”

While medical marijuana sales are rolling in for two dispensaries in Hot Springs, people in Northwest Arkansas are left in a waiting game.

“Very disappointed, very disappointed,” Welch said.

She adds another setback is the stigma of medical pot.

“Everybody needs to have an open mind with it, and it might work for someone, but might not work for someone else. At least give it a chance to help someone and not be so negative,” Welch said.

For now, she’s just holding out hope that a dispensary will open its doors sooner so she can find a different kind of relief.

“You would think — they knew this was coming for a couple of years now, that they would have made some rules and got things going, and be ready to open on opening day for everybody. Because we’re stuck up here in Northwest Arkansas, it’s a long way to go for anybody that’s sick.”

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