Guest opinion: New restrictions on medical cannabis for children cruel, unconstitutional – News-Press

Florida politicians continue to obstruct the will of the people.

Five years ago, cannabis was declared a medicine in our Constitution. More than seven in 10 of Florida voters (71%) approved of medical cannabis in 2016, but lawmakers have continued the war to make access as difficult and expensive as possible for Florida’s suffering patients. House Bill 1455 and Senate Bill 1958 introduce THC caps that create unnecessary hardships and additional expenses for all patients and make access to medical cannabis nearly impossible for children who need it most.

From the fear of having medically vulnerable children to living in isolation with children with aggressive and violent behaviors, the mental and emotional toll of this pandemic has been tragic for many special needs families. Amid instability, isolation, uncertainty, overwhelm, and financial crisis as a pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our daily lives, these politicians are adding immense undo financial hardship, stress, and suffering.

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Many of the children who have been harmed by harsh pharmaceuticals or for whom those drugs were ineffective have finally found relief with cannabis as a safer and more effective alternative. These include families whose children suffer from cancer, epilepsy, PTDS, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, autoimmune and a host of other disorders and diseases.

The proposed bills will strip families of the products that are currently working for their children. It will force them to purchase more products in order to experience the same relief.

By requiring that a minor’s second certifying physician be board-certified (in a state where barely a handful of board-certified physicians are certified to recommend cannabis), these bills will make it nearly impossible even for the few who could afford that. These acts, raising the costs and denying access to their physician, will force families to turn to the black market.

Forcing special needs parents back onto the black market is not just misguided – it’s criminal.

Capping THC levels increases the amount and frequency of cannabis products these children will need, which in turn increases the overall cost to their family. It will drive the physician costs up and create a monopoly of only a select few physicians statewide who will be allowed to recommend cannabis to children.

Politicians are not physicians. Even the couple of doctors in office statewide are not elected to serve as physicians, or to try and protect us from ourselves – they’re elected to implement our will. Our will, as expressed by 71% of voters and as expressed in our Constitution, is to provide access to medical cannabis.

Vets with PTSD, cancer patients, Floridians fighting chronic pain, and patients of all ages and ailments deserve better. The bill isn’t just unnecessary – it’s downright cruel. It will force very sick people to buy more and pay more to get the relief they need.

We should be focused on keeping our children safe and happy during these stressful and uncertain times, not on a handful of politicians who refuse to acknowledge that their only job while in office is to serve the will of the people.

Our suffering children deserve better.

Moriah Barnhart is advocate, founder and CEO of CannaMoms.

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