Pubdate: Thu, 23 Oct 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Alcee L. Hastings
Note: Alcee L. Hastings, D-Miramar, represents U.S. House District 
20, which includes Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and other parts of 
Palm Beach County. He wrote this for The Palm Beach Post.
Page: A9


This November, voters all across the country will cast their ballots 
and make important decisions about the future of our nation. In 
Florida, voters will face no shortage of consequential choices. For 
many of my constituents, our state's medical marijuana amendment is 
of the greatest significance.

Florida's Amendment 2 will allow voters the opportunity to answer a 
fundamental question about the character of our state and its people. 
Should patients in Florida have the ability to adhere to their 
doctor's recommendations without fearing criminal punishment? Should 
Florida's patients have access to the same treatment options that 
patients of other states already enjoy? Should we, as citizens, treat 
sick and suffering Floridians with compassion and respect?

These questions all have a clear answer, but compassionate care isn't 
just morally admirable, it's also empirically sound. Many respected 
scientists, physicians, and patient advocates have been saying it all 
along, and after the passage of SB 1030, even our state's government 
has recognized it - marijuana is medicine. The anecdotal and 
empirical evidence is overwhelming. Amendment 2 finally ensures that 
Floridians with debilitating diseases can have access to this 
important treatment option.

Furthermore, it's evident from reading Amendment 2's text that its 
authors were able to learn from the successes and shortcomings of 
medical marijuana laws in other states. The amendment establishes the 
basic guidelines for our state's medical marijuana program, while 
allowing the experts at the Florida Department of Health to implement 
the specific regulations necessary to make certain that our state's 
medical marijuana program meets the needs of all Floridians. It's 
time for Florida to join the company of 23 other states and the 
District of Columbia in allowing physicians the freedom to make 
medical decisions for their patients.

In discussing medical marijuana, I've heard the concerns of both 
patients and parents. I strongly believe that the passage of 
Amendment 2, followed by a careful and responsible implementation 
process, would answer both groups' concerns. I believe that Florida's 
medical marijuana program will allow patients affordable access to 
their medicine without compromising our state's safety or security.

As citizens, rarely do we have an opportunity to directly improve the 
quality of life of the most sick and suffering among us. Allowing 
patients to have the freedom to comply with their doctor's 
recommendations should not be a difficult decision.

When my mother was at the end stages of her life, she was in a whole 
lot of pain. Had medical marijuana been available, I think that her 
last days would have been more comfortable.

It is my sincere hope that Floridians throughout the entire state 
will join me in supporting Amendment 2 this November. Sick and dying 
patients should not have to sacrifice when they are already suffering 
greatly. They should be afforded the compassionate care they rightly deserve.
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