Frustration over medical marijuana license hold

Tobey Bittle (Source: KAIT-TV)
Tobey Bittle (Source: KAIT-TV)

(KAIT) - There is frustration after an Arkansas judge temporarily blocked the state from giving out licenses to five medical marijuana cultivation facilities.

For the companies, this means a delay in receiving licenses, and for the patients who need medical marijuana, it could mean a lot more.

As Tobey Bittle described it, it means another roadblock on his journey to feeling normal again.

Bittle sustained major injuries in a car wreck back in 2002, and he has suffered from chronic pain ever since.

He's tried several medications over the years but his body grows immune to their effects after a while, and all this time on pain medication has Bittle worried he may get hooked.

"I'm scared of being addicted to it," Bittle said. "And even as bad as it hurts, I'll go some time without them just to not be addicted to them."

Doctors continued to increase his dosage but Bittle said his doctors told him there's nothing else they can do.

"And when they tell you that, it's like a death sentence," Bittle said.

That's when he heard about medical marijuana and started following its progression through the Arkansas legislature.

Bittle said he's been waiting for his chance to receive a medical marijuana prescription for a while. He found a doctor who will prescribe it and is reviewing his case.

But the injunction just added another delay in the process.

"Every time we take a step forward, we get pushed back three or four steps," Bittle said. "And you try to prepare yourself to wait but it's not what you think, it's a whole lot worse."

Before his wreck, Bittle had a job on a cotton farm, and he enjoyed the hard work that required.

But since the accident, Bittle said it's difficult for him to even get out of the bed in the morning.

"Now I just sit around and wait for bedtime every day," Bittle said.

For Bittle, getting a prescription for and having access to medical marijuana would mean being able to go a full day without pain, and maybe even getting back to work.

More than anything, Bittle wants to be able to get this relief legally.

"I don't want to be a criminal," Bittle said. "But I have to be so I don't hurt."

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued the temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit filed by Naturalis Health, a Little Rock company that was not chosen as one of the top five cultivation facilities.

The lawsuit questions how the Medical Marijuana Commission reviews applications for the facilities.

Judge Griffen set a hearing for Friday to request a preliminary injunction.

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