Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Medical Access

The following letter to the editor, “Medical Access” was submitted by Holly Abel-

I’m a life-long Alaskan, mother of two and mental health professional whose passions are prevention and health promotion.  I don’t consume cannabis, alcohol, caffeine, drugs or television.  I thank God for the free will and discernment He has given me, that I may choose what I put in my body.  I respect that other accountable adults exercise their free will and discernment differently.

My father, a war veteran who devoted his life to raising his family and serving his community, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2014.  In the last 3 months of his life, he experienced extreme pain and anxiety.  The opiates prescribed him had terrible side effects.  It was not until my dad’s doctor recommended cannabis that he experienced relief from his symptoms.  When you have a loved one who is suffering, you want relief for them desperately.  There are many in our community who rely on cannabis for medical relief, from cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, MS, PTSD … the list goes on.  There are no medical dispensaries in Alaska.  How can a person who is too sick to grow their own cannabis gain access to the medicine they need?  What if they are uncomfortable buying cannabis on the black market?  People like my dad should have access to lab-tested, labeled cannabis sold by licensed retailers in secure locations.  They should be able to buy cannabis without being offered more addictive substances.  They should have alternatives to opiates and other pharmaceuticals.  I’m thankful a regulated option is now available through permitted cannabis businesses in our borough.

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I know medical cannabis consumers who are afraid to offer their personal testimonies because they fear contempt, stigma and persecution from those who demonize cannabis.  These medical consumers are community leaders, educators, healthcare providers, church members, veterans, the elderly … and cannabis relieves their suffering!  Who’s standing up for these people and their freedom to make a very personal choice about how they treat their ailments?  Christ asked us to look after the sick, for what we did for the least of these we did for Him.  Are we standing up for sick people when we move to prohibit the regulated cultivation and sale of the medicine they use?  I hope regulated cannabis will remain an accessible option for those who become sick.  If you don’t understand cannabis, please research its history and medical applications.

I’m voting NO on prop 1 October 3 to protect medical access to regulated cannabis for people like my dad.  Some will vote NO on prop 1 to retain tax revenue or jobs, to resist the failed policy of prohibition, to protect personal liberty and social justice, or to support restricting sales to carded adults.  Prohibition will never erase cannabis use; shouldn’t we support a transparent, regulated option?  I pray we do not harden our hearts to medical patients, that any fear for bitterness be dissolved and replaced with mercy and compassion.  Vote NO on Prop 1 October 3, or vote early today.

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