This November, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana in Florida. As a primary-care physician who wants patients to have access to this medicine, I plan to vote yes.
I have been caring for children and families in the Central Florida region for more than 20 years. With a focus in pediatric oncology and palliative medicine, I've seen the struggle children with debilitating conditions endure. There is a great need for this medicine.
As a founder and former director of the Florida Hospital Medical Group's Children's Center for Cancer & Blood Disease, I know firsthand the harsh effects narcotics can have on those battling cancer. Instead of treating a patient with doses of narcotics, physicians could recommend the use of cannabinoids.
Using narcotics comes with many consequences, including addiction and unintended deaths. If you can reduce the dosage of the narcotics by adding cannabinoids, you can reduce the risks and still control the pain. Unlike narcotics, cannabinoids allow patients to be more interactive, and they can stay more engaged with their loved ones throughout the course of their illness.
This summer, I will be working with a team of experts on Florida for Care's blue ribbon commission to develop the "gold standard" for medical-marijuana laws in our state. While developing the model legislation, the commission will implement three guiding principles: Ensure patient access; create a robust regulatory system; and promote a free commercial enterprise.
This nonpartisan commission is comprised of supporters and opponents of Amendment 2. Each member is an expert in his or her field. Florida's families deserve a thorough and comprehensive plan for the implementation of Amendment 2. As a member of the commission's health-policy subcommittee, I will bring my extensive experience as a medical professional to advocate on behalf of children's health, ensuring the proposed legislation protects our most precious resource.
It's always hard to see a parent lose a child; and a child, a parent. If a patient is terminal, then quality of life becomes a consideration. Being able to spend your final moments with your family while being as comfortable as possible is the best definition I can think of for quality of life.
Florida has a unique opportunity to set the stage for the future use of cannabinoids in alleviating pain and improving the quality of life for patients. My service on the commission will make sure this is done in a medically and socially responsible manner.