Numerous states—including Connecticut, Illinois, and New Hampshire—recognize spinal cord injury as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Arkansas does not specifically identify spinal cord injury in a broad sense, but the language of the law is still clear. Most spinal injury sufferers absolutely qualify for an Arkansas medical marijuana card.
What Constitutes a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury occurs as a result of damage to the spine or the sensitive nerves along the spinal canal (cauda equina). Despite the word “injury,” you won’t always experience physical pain. A spinal cord injury may be associated with numbness, weakness, or—in some cases—partial to total paralysis.
Spinal cord injuries are measured according to “completeness,” or severity. A complete spine injury occurs when the individual loses all motor function beneath the site of the injury. An incomplete spine injury occurs when the individual still retains some sensory or motor function beneath the affected area. Incomplete injuries may be mild or severe.
How Spinal Injury Sufferers Can Qualify for an Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card
There are three qualifying conditions in Arkansas that may be applicable to spinal cord injury sufferers:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): ALS is a progressive nervous system disorder that predominantly affects individuals over 60. It involves damage to the sensitive motor neurons that extend from the brain to the spine and out to the body’s various muscle groups. Although it’s not the spinal cord itself that is injured, the motor neurons within the spine are no longer able to send messages to the muscles, and so the condition has similar outcomes to many spine injuries—specifically loss of motor control.
- Peripheral Neuropathy. A peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nervous system, the network that transmits signals between the brain and spinal cord and all other parts of the body. This type of disorder occurs when peripheral nerves are damaged or disconnected from the spinal cord, and it’s most often caused by physical injury or trauma. Symptoms can range from slight numbness and tingling to extreme touch sensitivity and even paralysis in some cases.
- Intractable Pain. Arkansas permits medical marijuana certification for patients with “intractable pain which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months.” If your spinal cord injury is accompanied by symptoms like extreme back pain, impaired breathing, weakness, or paralysis, you may be a candidate for medical marijuana. You should speak with a physician if the symptoms have persisted for more than 6 months and conventional treatments have been ineffective.
How to Get Your Arkansas Medical Marijuana Card
If a spinal cord injury is impacting your quality of life, make an appointment for a physician’s evaluation. If the physician determines that you qualify as a patient and would benefit from medical marijuana, you will receive a written recommendation.
Once you have your recommendation in hand, proceed to the Arkansas Department of Health website to register for your medical marijuana card. You’ll need a current state-issued ID, your written certification, and $50 for the initial registration fee. Patient applications take 10 to 14 days to process and approve, after which you should be able to access any medical marijuana dispensary in the state.
Because the state is allowing telemedicine evaluations, you can apply for your Arkansas medical marijuana card online. Schedule your physician’s evaluation through Green Health Docs, and come one step closer to treating your spinal cord injury.