As far as local legislators are concerned, Miami currently has two County Commissioners, three State Senators, and five State Representatives. As far as state and federal levels are concerned, Florida residents are represented at both of them by numerous elected officials, who bear responsibility for hearing voices of their constituents (including individual ones). There are four major governmental bodies, in which Florida residents are represented (Adkins, 2016):
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- Florida State Senate is the senior legislative body in the state, which involves 40 state senators (elected by residents), each serving a four-year term (with a two-term limit) and representing a single district, from which he/she originates.
- Florida State House of Representatives is a lower house, consisting of 120 representatives, each serving two-year term in office (with a four-term limit), who must come from the district they represent.
- United States Senate has two Florida representatives (as from each state) elected via state election and serving six-year terms without any limits.
- United States House of Representatives consists of 435 voting members, of which Florida has 25, who serve two-year terms. Miami encompasses the 17th, 18th, 20th, 21st, and 25th Congressional Districts of Florida.
Florida currently has 18 standing, 4 joint committees, and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission. Those related to health care are Health Policy Standing Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. The legislative commitments mostly concern community action and human services. The major health care commitment is to develop the Gap Funding Project that would assist homeless people that currently have problems with access to health care (Adkins, 2016).
On the whole Florida legislators have filed more than 3,000 bills since the beginning of the year and the only app. 250 of all the bills managed to win approval in both chambers. For 2017, legislative initiatives affecting health care include (Garmon, 2017):
- 101 Certificates of Nonviable Births;
- 209 Medical Faculty & Medical Assistant Certification;
- 229 Health Care Practitioner Licensure;
- 543 Regulation of Health Care Practitioners;
- 557 Controlled Substance Prescribing;
- 1307 Physician Assistant Workforce Surveys;
- 5203 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
- 7907 Direct Support Organization of The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
- 852 Human Trafficking;
- 8-A Medical Use of Marijuana.
One of the recurring pending policies Florida legislators constantly address is passing a bill that would expand the use of medical marijuana. This issue frequently appears on the agenda of special legislative sessions as lawmakers cannot reach a compromise and solve the ethical dilemma involved. Thus, I would like to write a letter supporting the legal use of low-strength marijuana for health care purposes. The draft would look as follows:
RE: 1397 Medical Use of Marijuana
I am writing to you on behalf of your district to attract your attention to the health care problem connected with the pending of Bill 1397 that has already been declined several times. The bill concerns certain issues related to the medical use of marijuana. Namely, it speculates upon providing tax exemption on the medical use of the drug, giving licenses to marijuana treatment centers, establishing a regulated tracking system, and some other aspects (Compton, Han, Hughes, Jones, & Blanco, 2017).
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Currently, there are only 25 dispensaries per marijuana center (app. 100,000 patients), and 7 centers statewide. There is a heated debate on the topic since some members of the government believe that the use of marijuana even for medical purposes violates ethical norms (Adler & Colbert, 2013). It has been proven by research that this drug is capable of relieving symptoms and eliminating side effects of a lot of diseases including glaucoma, epilepsy, various types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, Hepatitis C, arthritis, and others (Hill, 2015). Furthermore, it helps patients fight against obesity and addictions, which, I believe, is a good reason to give license to marijuana centers. I hope that you will do your best to assist this.
Adkins, M. E. (2016). Making modern Florida: How the spirit of reform shaped a new state Constitution. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
Adler, J. N., & Colbert, J. A. (2013). Medicinal use of marijuana—polling results. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(22), 866-868.
Compton, W. M., Han, B., Hughes, A., Jones, C. M., & Blanco, C. (2017). Use of marijuana for medical purposes among adults in the United States. Jama, 317(2), 209-211.
Garmon, C. (2017). Surprise medical bills in US EDs despite insurance. PharmacoEconomics & Outcomes News, 769(1), 30-14.
Hill, K. P. (2015). Medical marijuana for treatment of chronic pain and other medical and psychiatric problems: A clinical review. Jama, 313(24), 2474-2483.