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Op-Ed Piece by Karen Basha Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.
For 45 years, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has been on a mission to accelerate therapies that stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.
With 400,000 Floridians living with epilepsy, we’ve had a lot of work to do.
One of our guiding principles is our commitment to physician directed care. Simply, we believe that licensed medical doctors are best equipped to help their patients make important medical decisions, including treatments and medications. Doctors know their patients best.
But today, not all of Florida’s epilepsy patients have all treatment options available to them from their physicians. That’s why the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, along with the National Epilepsy Foundation, supports Amendment 2.
Some progress has been made in the past few years — for instance, Charlotte’s Web cannabis oil is now selectively available for some with severe epilepsy.
However, about one third of people with epilepsy suffer from uncontrolled or intractable seizures, which can cause injury, disability, and even death. For those with drug resistant epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures, medical marijuana may be an important, viable option that is not currently available under Florida law.
Under a state regulated program, with high standards of patient care, and where a qualified treating physician believes the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risks for their patient, Amendment 2 makes legal access possible.
This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their qualified treating physician.
7 out of 10 doctors and the American College of Physicians want medical marijuana available as one treatment option, and 24 states already allow its use.
There is no “one size fits all” treatment for epilepsy, a condition that 1 in 26 Americans will develop at some point in their lifetime. And there is a reason why some Floridians living with the toughest forms of epilepsy are turning to medical marijuana, when other options have failed.
Ultimately, this is about compassion.
Floridians with severe forms of epilepsy deserve a choice.
They deserve care. And they deserve compassion.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida supports Amendment 2, because nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment under the direction of qualified physician care.