Medical marijuana helped save my life, and I ask voters to show compassion for patients like me by voting yes on Question 3.

I was diagnosed with ulcerated colitis in 2003. For the past nine years I have been in and out of the hospital. The symptoms of the disease include incredibly painful cramps and inflammation of the colon. As a result, my colon was removed and a pouch was built into my stomach. I now live with constant cramping and pain that doctors have addressed by prescribing OxyContin, Dilaudid, and Percocet, medications that can cause further organ damage.

I'm a father of two with a family to support. But finding employment that permits me to go to the bathroom 10-15 times a day is a challenge, even as a licensed plumber with HVAC certification, and a commercial driver's license. I know from experience that medical marijuana reduces inflammation and cramping, which allows me to cut back on the opiate painkillers, reduces trips to the restroom and ultimately helps keeps me out of the hospital.

Medical marijuana is saving my life, my family and my job. I need safe access to this medicine as do thousands of people like me across Massachusetts suffering from debilitating illnesses. Please show compassion for us by voting yes on Question 3.

Ben Vallente