LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- With Monday September 18th the deadline to submit for medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation licenses, many prospective cannabis providers are hashing out the final details of their applications.
That includes Nicole Hart, who hopes to become Chief Operating Officer of Arkansas Medicinal Source.
There are approximately 250,000 veterans in Arkansas, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Not everyone agrees that medical cannabis is the cure those veterans need. But Hart is so sure of it, she's made it a central part of her business model.
After more than a decade working in veterans' services, serving veterans with PTSD will be a key component of Arkansas Medicinal Source. In its application, it has outlined a resource program it plans to launch called Vet360. As the name implies, Vet360 will focus on a veteran's total wellness and how it relates to medical marijuana. Hart says those resources could include, but are not limited to, connecting an unemployed vet with a job in the cannabis industry, or financial support to help him or her afford the drug.
"If cannabis is the way to get there, then I wouldn't understand why you wouldn't help them?" Hart asked.
And if anyone understands the struggles of a veteran with PTSD, it's Hart...a veteran herself. She served in the National Guard and was caught in the middle of a mortar attack while overseas. Many in her company died or were critically injured.
"I myself suffer from PTSD," she explained. "So I understand sleepless night, I understand dark times."
Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in Arkansas, and many in the state lauding its ability to help veterans overcome PTSD, some medical professionals still condemn use of the drug. In August, Psychiatric Associates of Arkansas announced on Facebook its doctors are not recommending medical marijuana, saying there's no clear evidence it can help PTSD.
"Did you look for the evidence?" Hart asked rhetorically, in response to the post. "Because the evidence is out there to show the opposite. But if you're not looking for it, you won't see it."
Hart says she'll likely apply for her medical card to help treat her PTSD. When the time comes, she hopes more veterans like her will do the same.
If its licenses are approved, Arkansas Medicinal Source plans to open its facilities in Northwest Arkansas.
PTSD is the only mental disorder that qualifies for a medical marijuana prescription under Arkansas law.
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