Election Day is quickly approaching. With Amendment 2, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” on the ballot, Floridians will have the opportunity to cast their “Yes” vote and expand Florida’s current medical cannabis program.
Currently medical cannabis is reserved only for patients with epilepsy, cancer, conditions that produce chronic muscle spasms and for those who are dying, leaving many Floridians left asking, “What about me?” and “What about my loved ones?”
There is a growing body of research worldwide supporting the use of cannabis for a variety of conditions and disorders including cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, nausea and vomiting, pain, anxiety/agitation, depression and glaucoma, just to name a few.
As our country finds itself in the midst of an opioid epidemic, more and more people are wanting an all-natural, safer alternative to dangerous prescription drugs. Studies show that in states where medical cannabis is available to patients, prescription drug overdoses are down by 25 percent. It’s important to note that while someone in the U.S. dies of a prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes, nobody has ever died of an overdose from too much cannabis.
Legal medical cannabis states have also seen a substantial reduction in Medicare prescription drug spending. In fact, researchers concluded medical cannabis saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013. They estimated if medical cannabis were available nationwide, Medicare Part D spending would have declined by about $470 million.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding related to cannabis as medicine, including how it’s taken. From my experience, when people hear cannabis, the most common image that comes to mind is that of a person smoking.
What is not commonly understood is that there are a variety of methods to administer cannabinoid medicines, including but not limited to vaporization, ingestion, oral drops and sprays, capsules as well as topical preparations. Many of these can be used with little to no associated “high.”
Earlier this year, even Walgreen’s put out an article entitled “Clarifying Clinical Cannabis,” listing side effects as dizziness, drowsiness and euphoria. For those who may not be aware, the definition of euphoria is a sense of wellbeing. I believe a sense of wellbeing would be a welcomes side effect for sick and suffering people.
Voting “Yes” on Amendment 2 will take medical decisions out of the hands of politicians and put them back where they belong, between a doctor, patient and their family. Only Florida licensed physicians will be eligible to recommend medical cannabis to patients. Suffering people should not live in fear of arrest or negative legal consequences for using plant-based medications that have been shown to be both safe and effective.
Josephine Cannella-Krehl, a licensed clinical social worker with a background in addictions counseling and hospice medical social work, advocates for safe and legal access to medical cannabis at the Florida Legislature. She was instrumental in the passage of "The Medical Use of Cannabis Act" in 2016. For more education on medical cannabis, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org