Daily Dispatches
Election Day discussion at Sportsman's Barbershop in Hot Springs, Ark.
Photo by Mark Russell for WORLD
Election Day discussion at Sportsman's Barbershop in Hot Springs, Ark.

Barbershop banter on medical marijuana measure in Arkansas


HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Arkansas could be the first Southern state to approve medical marijuana. If Issue Five is approved, patients who live more than five miles from a dispensary could grow up to five plants for personal consumption.

Sportsman’s Barbershop in Hot Springs is the good-ol’-boy hangout on Election Day. Antlers, wild game mounts, and even a 3-foot-tall hornet’s nest hang from the walls. Noisy electric hair clippers aren’t enough to muffle the political opinions. When Barack Obama made his comment about “clinging to guns and bibles,” this crowd took it as a compliment.

When owner Mark Williams started cutting hair back in 1973, his customers would not have considered legalizing marijuana for any reason—but the times have changed.

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“I haven’t heard that many people speak out against it,” Williams said. “If I had cancer, I’d try just about anything. Even if it did increase usage, it might be like Amsterdam and cut back on the problems if it was regulated.”

At a nearby church-based recovery meeting, reaction was mixed. Most said that they wouldn’t use it whether it was legal or not. One young man said that he could see the medical side but thinks it is really just about people who want to smoke pot. A woman working in the kitchen added, “In Colorado five years ago they voted in medical use and now I hear they are going to make recreational use legal. It really does remove the stigma.”

A group member not present was quoted as saying that she would use it every day if it were legal. Her husband said, “I’m not sure I wouldn’t buy it for her.”

Back at the barbershop, Williams said keeping it illegal was like Prohibition in the last century: “No one that really wants it has any trouble getting it.” He then kidded one of his customers who is an eye doctor: “If this passes, you are going to be seeing a whole lot of new patients suffering from glaucoma.”

Mark Russell
Mark Russell

Mark is a freelance writer and practicing physician living in Hot Springs, Arkansas with the love of his life who also happens to be his wife of 39 years. Follow Mark on Twitter @msrmd.


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