Pediatric nurse appointed to Arkansas marijuana board

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A pediatric nurse who says he's seen the positive effects of medical marijuana on his patients has been appointed to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

Justin Smith, 38, was appointed to the board Monday, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . Smith is a nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital and has worked in pediatric care for 11 years. He replaces James Miller, who resigned last month to focus on his family and business.

Smith said he's seen cannabis products help treat children with epilepsy.

"I've seen it work with my own eyes," Smith said. "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."

Smith's clinical experience is key, said Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang.

"I feel like he's got the right experience, and some of that's going to be beneficial to the commission," Dismang said.

"He's eager to help and wants to make sure the program is implemented as soon as possible," he said.

The five-member commission is scheduled to consider more than 200 applications on Wednesday for the state's first 32 medical cannabis dispensary permits. The applications have been scored by a Boston-based consulting firm .

Dispensaries could begin selling medical cannabis in April, according to regulators.

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, but the implementation process has been slow compared to other states because of legal and regulatory delays.

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