Why Medical Marijuana Needs to be Handicap Friendly

Medical marijuana is only useful if your disability doesn't prevent you from using it.
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Being disabled isn’t fun and has a slew of drawbacks.

When you depend on medical marijuana and you have mobility issues, what happens? You have to figure out how to grind, load into your favorite smoking or vaping device, and get it to your mouth.

Not easy, right?

Don’t worry, that’s normal (sadly). And maybe one day I will be able to fix that.

But for now, the next best thing I can do is start the conversation. This way, we as a community can brainstorm possible solutions to help ourselves become more independent.

Here we go…

What’s the Problem?

One thing I didn’t anticipate becoming a problem was the use of medical marijuana.

Access isn’t a problem, I live in a medical marijuana approved state. The actual preparation and consumption are, however.

When you physically can’t roll your own, and the buttons on your favorite device are too difficult to manipulate, how do you get your medicine?

I’ve looked high and low for devices that could accommodate my non-functioning hands and arms, but nothing seems to exist.

Let’s play along at home. Put your favorite vape (or cell phone if you don’t vape) down on the table. Now, pick it up without using your fingers. Tough, right?

Medical marijuana is not handicap accessible.

Such as with everything else in my life, I’m dependent on my caregivers to help with giving me any dose in any form. Not wanting to inconvenience anyone with yet another request, I try to wait as long as possible before I ask for anything else. When I do, I try to lump my requests together so my caregivers only get up once.

Regardless of how it gets into me, or who administers it, I still need it for all the reasons above. That said, I would love to maintain my independence with all aspects of the process.

Puff, Puff, Pass

I didn’t start smoking weed until I got sick. No, not because I had any objection to it. But because I had other vices to keep me occupied. When you catch the slightest whiff that something might be wrong with you, it’s straight to Dr. Google.

What I found were mounds of studies, testimonials, and press releases touting consistent relief of the same symptoms I was experiencing, across a huge range of diseases.

Still living in New York City at this point, my now ex-wife had herself a respectable pot habit. Not knowing which end of a bong to hold, she taught me the basics. As infrequently as I smoked, the effects on symptoms was profound.

The leg cramps were less frequent, the fasiculations subsided, and the clouds of anxiety and depression lifted. What also relaxed were the tendons and muscles in my legs, making me prone to falls.

Medical marijuana is a big part of my ALS Treatment Protocol for a variety of reasons. It calms the most annoying symptoms such as spasticity, cramps, excess saliva, insomnia, panic attacks, and the latest, formula intolerance. The last of which I’ll spare you the gory details.

I refer to it as medical marijuana for a few reasons. I have a Medical Marijuana Program card and get my “medication” from a dispensary. New Jersey doesn’t offer recreational weed. And I’m not cool enough to have a guy.

Mechanics of Medical Marijuana

Weed is Weed, Right?

Sure, if you also believe that all coffee, cars, and people are the same. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch. First, weed today is more than triple the potency of the grass clippings our parents had.

Second, with the laws the way they are, you’re able to get a detailed analysis of what’s in the weed. No, I’m not referring to determining what other illicit substances your shit head friend decided to lace it with. I’m talking about all the THC’s and CBD’s the plant has.

Check out the label below from the OG Strawberry strain. You’ll notice there are two other components listed besides THC and CBD. THCa ( tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in the live plant.

Medical marijuana label with assay of the contents of the weed strain..

There are hundreds of unique cannabinoids in a single plant, many of which have not yet been attributed to a particular benefit. For the purpose of this article, I’ll stick to the basics.

As the plant dries, through time or when you heat it, the acid component drops off through a process called decarboxylation. The same goes for CBDa and any other cannabinoid in the plant before decarbing.

Why is this important? You ever see someone roll a joint and then eat it? Of course not. That’s because you need to heat the plant in order to get the effects from it.

So we know what to look for on the label. Now what?

Unless you’ve got a guy, it’s time to get yourself a medical marijuana patient’s card. This is easy, and do doesn’t take too long. I outlined the steps for New Jersey below. Mileage may vary by state.

Getting the Card

This wasn’t a difficult process. ALS qualifies you for just about everything, nearly immediately. That’s not anything to get excited about.

However, there are plenty of qualifying conditions that will earn you a medical marijuana card. Check your state website for official details. NJ Medical Marijuana Program

The process goes something like this:

  1. Choose a qualifying condition
  2. Your doctor will certificate certify that you have the condition
  3. Provide information, ID, and payment
  4. Your name is added to your state’s registry
  5. Go get your weed!

There are also cards for caregivers which will allow them to pick up your medical marijuana order on your behalf. Super convenient if you are too high to get off the couch! Err… I mean, if you are too sick to move.

Now that you’ve got your license to chill, its time to get your medicine.

Getting the Weed

There are a growing number of dispensaries around New Jersey. I used to frequent the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair, NJ, though their unreasonably high prices, poor selection, and less than desirable front desk staff, has chased away many customers.

Fortunately, I have choices. Weedmaps a great resource for finding dispensaries near you.

Medical marijuana dispensaries across the United States.
Click to search for dispensaries near you

When I go shopping, I look for a strain high in THC, and another high in CBD. I combine them for a 1:1 mix. The mix is more effective, for me than choosing a strain with both THC and CBD.

That goes for vaping and taking oil. Speaking of which, I am creating a step-by-step guide on how to make your own oil, the Breaking Bad way. Watch out, Walter White!

Sign up to get the guide when it launches

The Struggle is Real

All this is well and good, except I still can’t use a pen or so pipe or six foot bong. Anyone with dexterity issues knows what I’m talking about. So why is there no handicap usable vaping or smoking gear on the market today?

People with disabilities make up 11% of cannabis consumers.


Medical marijuana has come a long way, from the legality in the United States to the quality and variety. However, the gap in accessibility needs to be filled. And soon.

How do you consume your marijuana? Tell me in the comments below.

7 Reasons Why Medical Marijuana Needs to be Handicap Accessible

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