Lead Letter: Florida’s Epilepsy Sufferers Need Medical Marijuana

August 3, 2015

Lead Letter: Florida’s Epilepsy Sufferers Need Medical Marijuana

By Karen Basha Egozi, Jacksonville
January 30, 2015

Imagine a seizure striking without warning while attending your son’s or daughter’s soccer game.

This is the fear that more than 375,000 Floridians and their families face every day involving epilepsy.

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is to eliminate as much uncertainty for our members as possible. Epilepsy doesn’t always have a cure; as a result, those impacted by the disease are desperate for any treatments that reduce symptoms.

We applaud Sen. Jeff Brandes for his recent proposal to expand access to medical marijuana to those most deserving.

His bill, SB 528, would allow for a patient with a specified medical condition, including epilepsy, to use medical-grade marijuana as ordered by his or her physician once other medical treatment has been exhausted.

Last year, lawmakers, led by state Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Katie Edwards, championed and ultimately passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, also known as Charlotte’s Web, which made legal a strain of non-euphoric marijuana for Florida residents who suffer from epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

However, the rules that the Department of Health drafted in order to implement the law were challenged in the court’s system and ultimately thrown out, leaving families desperate for a new treatment option without an alternative.

Today, 12 percent of Americans with epilepsy live in Florida. And indicators are that this number may increase — not only because baby boomers will age but also because Florida is home to the second largest veterans population in the nation.

It’s estimated that 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experienced traumatic brain injury, the leading cause of epilepsy.

It’s in our state’s interest to address this condition.

We humbly ask the Legislature to continue its good work in expanding treatment options to ensure that epilepsy victims have access to new medications with medical supervision, allowing them to live better and more productive everyday lives.

Read more here: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2015-01-30/story/lead-letter-floridas-epilepsy-sufferers-need-medical

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