Arkansas Cancer Patient Chooses Protection over Pot

WARREN, Ark. - The Arkansas Department of Health has approved nearly 2,300 Arkansans to buy medical marijuana.

A former law enforcement officer who spent years fighting to keep the drug off the streets was hoping to get his hands on it. But now, he plans on using a different kind of medicine. 

"I try to keep busy," said Kevin Hoffman as he started to sand his latest project: a table. "A couple hours. It just depends on how I feel that day."

Cancer may be eating away at Hoffman's body, but he won't let it get his soul. 

"You just can't beat the feeling you get," he said. "It's just like a piece of art to me."

Hoffman first made a wooden shadowbox for his kids to remember his law enforcement career.

"At that point, I thought I was going to die any day so I wanted to leave them something to pass along," he said.

But the process was so therapeutic, Hoffman kept building and now even restores wooden furniture.

"I've been trying for years to find one of these," he said, pointing to his antique radio. 

Hoffman has also been searching for something to soothe his body and thought he found it in medical marijuana.

"It could help with pain, stress," he said.

When we first spoke with Hoffman in May, he wanted the medical marijuana card to help him through chemo and radiation for his throat cancer.

His throat is now cancer free, but doctors just found two spots on his lungs.

Hoffman also suffers from PTSD after the loss of his daughter.

"The pain does start to grow on a daily basis," he said. "Especially the more active that I try to be, and it could get worse."

Hoffman wants to take advantage of the new state law, but a federal one states medical marijuana patients cannot own or buy a gun.

"I will never give up my Second Amendment rights for anything," he said. "Period."

So Hoffman returns to his woodwork, choosing to bear the pain while keeping his right to bear arms.

"I'm on Prozac, too, and I didn't lose my rights to have a weapon or buy a weapon because of that," he said. 

Hoffman also worries about a pair of lawsuits delaying the buying process for other patients.

One group claims its applications to grow and sell the drug followed all of the rules and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission should not have thrown them out.

Alex Gray, the attorney who filed the lawsuits, said this matter would in no way delay the process. 

Meg Mirivel, the spokesperson for the health department, encourages Arkansans to apply online for the medical marijuana cards. She said the department has had to process more paper applications than expected, which slows down the approval process. 

Mirivel said the department's website makes the application and renewal processes much faster for patients, especially with its new feature where they can upload the required documents by taking pictures of them with their phones. 


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