A vacancy on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission was filled yesterday by the appointment of an Arkansas Children’s Hospital nurse who advocates use of medical marijuana, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Hunter Field reported this morning.

Justin Smith, 38, of Cabot will fill out two years remaining on the term of James Miller, who resigned. He was appointed by outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang and is a marked change from Dismang’s previous appointment, Kevin Russell, a Benton police officer who, as our Rebekah Hall reported, fought legalization of medical marijuana and was once paid by a group formed to oppose legal use of cannabis in the state. Russell has sent mixed signals about whether he’s come around to support of medical marijuana as dictated by Arkansas Constitution and law.


Dismang said Smith’s clinical experience was a plus in his appointment and also said Smith wanted the law implemented as soon as possible. It’s been 26 months since voters approved medical marijuana. Wednesday, the commission may finally get around to approving a consultant’s scoring of applications for dispensary licenses. No medical marijuana has yet been cultivated for sale in the state. Gov. Asa Hutchinson just last week discouraged those approved by doctors for use of the drug from taking their cards (when finally issued) to obtain medical marijuana easily available in neighboring Oklahoma.

A quote in the D-G article from Smith was hopeful for those who support medical marijuana.


Smith said he’s seen cannabis derivatives work effectively in the treatment of children with epilepsy.

“I’ve seen it work with my own eyes,” Smith said on Monday. “When you see that, it kind of changes your mind and perspective on things. Especially in my case, when you see it work on children, you can’t really deny it has some benefit with proper application.”