Time to send message
I had to read the Letter of the Day last Sunday from Brian Boyle, “Take the fight to them with everything we have,” twice just to be sure I had not written it. He says everything that has needed to be said since the first day we became “The Target” for terrorists.
I am from a military family, and I know the sacrifices made to keep us safe and free. We need the well-armed militia over there.
Yes, let’s take the fight to them with everything we have and end it once and for all. Let’s make sure we use every weapon in our arsenal. We need to be sure the message is “never again.” It will be hard and it will be ugly, but it will be finished.
Getting drugs to market
Rep. David Jolly must have just finished watching “Reefer Madness” before writing his op-ed opposing Amendment 2, which proposes legalizing marijuana for medical use in Florida (“Amendment 2 bad for Florida; medicine shouldn’t be voted on,” Views, Aug. 24).
I fully agree that those who are responsible for overseeing the production and distribution of legalized pot seem to be a little, let’s say, lax in making strong regulations for use and distribution of the final product. But the use of pot for many diseases, especially, muscular-skeletal disorders such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s and dysautonomia will give patients with these diseases another alternative over useless medications now available.
Jolly should have attended Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ two round- table discussions this past week in North Tampa concerning getting medications through the FDA faster and trying to figure out ways to incentivize Big Pharma to develop and market drugs for orphan, or uncommon, diseases, of which there are nearly 7,000. There were patients there with the aforementioned maladies, as well as representatives from medical academia from USF, Moffitt Cancer Center, a local medical device company and Quest Diagnostics. All bemoaned how the FDA process slowed getting drugs to market and how companies would rather take their engineering and production to Europe and hence start profiting sooner.
Jolly and his colleagues need to get off their duffs and make some changes to improve the entire process in getting drugs to the marketplace, as Bilirakis is trying to do.
The Ferguson incident and its aftermath drew national, even international, attention to American law enforcement being too quick on the draw. Shootings by and of the police always get maximum attention. These incidents must be immediately addressed. There are too many fatal encounters with persons of color, persons with mental illnesses and persons who are law enforcement officers. In all three references, the one common thread is a shooting involving the police.
Now is not the time for rage, rhetoric or retribution. It is time to have serious discussions in results-oriented tones.
In 2003, a Tampa Bay area state attorney said this about fatal encounters between mentally ill persons and the police: “Even though these incidents are ruled justifiable … there has to be a better way.” Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs have become that better way, as communities searched and found that CIT reduced incidents involving people in highly emotional states. They found CIT’s 40-hour training of police first-responders and the follow-up programs police departments and sheriffs’ offices establish could change the face of mental illness. In communities where CIT is in place, families sleep better knowing if their adult child has an episode, there is a trained CIT officer available to help.
It continues to be a long haul. But there is hope and faith in our law enforcement leadership that persons coping with mental illnesses and in crisis require a different kind of approach — treatment and care outside jail. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is committed to working with law enforcement officials and mental health professionals and advocates to train our first-responders to calm and assist persons in a mental crisis. These same principles can apply to the other referenced situations.
The writer is past president, NAMI Pinellas County, and a former board member of CIT International Inc.