Wednesday June 2, 2021
By Paul Barach
Marijuana is medicine. This fact has driven a lot of the debate over the legal status of cannabis, both at the start of the 20th century when it was first criminalized, and in the late 20th century when it was first re-legalized. Marijuana’s benefits as a treatment for a number of health issues, ranging from arthritis, chronic pain, glaucoma, muscle spasms, nervous system disorders, digestive issues, and vision problems are unignorable. This is why medical cannabis legalization nearly always comes before recreational. Beyond the idea of cannabis as medicine, actually being able to consume the marijuana necessary for treatment is another matter for some consumers.
The Need for Accessibility in Cannabis
Accessibility doesn’t come up much in the normal discussions of cannabis. This is because it’s both a wide-ranging subject and a specific individual issue amongst MMJ consumers. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to how to design a cannabis label for the visually impaired that can also be opened easily by someone with rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. One edible preparation may be greatly beneficial for patients with chronic pain, but may not work at all for those who have trouble keeping food down.
According to Cheryl Crow, an occupational therapist and the host of the Arthritis Life Podcast, there are a number of issues with fine motor skills and strength that able-bodied people take for granted.
“Things like push and twist caps or pressing small buttons to use any device can be difficult if not impossible for people with severe arthritis pain [or other motor issues.] That can be a barrier for people interested in using these products who also live alone.”
Even beyond medical users with disability issues, cannabis consumers of any type come in a wide variety of differing levels of ableness. That’s why PotGuide is here to talk about some of the most accessible cannabis products and accessories for those with disabilities.
Concentrates can make an enormous difference in effectiveness of treatment for MMJ patients. If flower isn’t potent enough, concentrates’ high THC content make them the next logical step up for fast relief of medical issues. However, concentrates must be vaporized using special tools ranging from a vape cartridge to a dab rig in order to be used.
This can present some accessibility challenges. Even pressing a button can be a strain for those who lack fine motor skills or have increased pain sensitivity. This could be due to amputations, advanced rheumatoid arthritis, paralysis, loss of sensation from diabetes, or nervous system/connective tissue dysfunction.
That’s why auto-draw batteries are a good workaround. Since the battery is activated by inhaling rather than pressing a button, it can be used by anyone that is able to lift it up to their mouth. For patients who need stronger relief than found in regular vape pens, live resin, live rosin, and other concentrate cartridges or pods allow for a more potent THC percentage while still fitting on standard batteries.
Another option is cannabis inhalers. These products provide a combustion-less form of cannabis consumption if patients have sensitive lungs or throat issues. Simply press down on the cartridge from the top and inhale to receive quick and potent relief.
When it comes to opening a package of flower, plastic pouches are easier to cut open for those with mobility issues than gripping, pressing, and twisting off childproof caps. A pair of easy-grip scissors makes accessing flower from the packages easy. The flower can then be ground up with a hand-cranked grinder, which is easier to manipulate than a grip-and-twist grinder. Shake is of course another option for cannabis consumers who want to keep with flower but may have a more challenging time grinding it.
Luckily, once you have your shake or your flower ground up, there are plenty of automatic joint rolling machines out there for purchase. Once rolled, joints can be lit with a flameless lighter, which is basically a tiny hot plate. Flameless lighters like those from Green Jay can light up a joint if flicking a wheel or pulling the trigger of a BBQ lighter is a challenge.
For visually impaired cannabis users who like a variety of flower, getting a good whiff of a strain is an easy way to tell them apart. However, if they’re into concentrates, this can get a little more challenging. Live resin will likely have the strongest scents, while wax and shatter are often very little scent. However, if they’re into vape cartridges, it can be nearly impossible. Besides this, opening each package to smell their strain or concentrate of choice every time you want to consume it can dry out the product prematurely.
That’s why it’s recommended to pick up an inclusive pill bottle for keeping your flower or concentrate strains organized. With different patterns embossed on the lids of each container, and a flip-top lid that can’t be lost, flower and concentrates will stay fresher longer, and vape cartridges won’t get mixed up.
Edibles provide long-lasting relief for MMJ patients. Because they take longer to process, their effects can be felt steadily all day, rather than MMJ patients having to inhale their doses every few hours. However, some consumers may have difficulty chewing or swallowing food. Or, they may have trouble keeping solid food down if they’re going through chemo or have digestive issues like chronic emesis syndrome.
There are plenty of cannabis beverages that are both easy to dose and provide the same benefits as edibles. Tinctures are another option, with the added benefit that they are absorbed into the bloodstream below the tongue and thus provide ever faster relief. Finally, there’s Distillate. Distillate is distilled THC in a viscous gel that comes in a syringe. Since it’s already activated, it can take the place of an eye dropper or liquid, and the plunger makes it easy to measure out a precise dose.
The Wrap Up
Dealing with a life-altering medical issue can be enough of a challenge without having trouble accessing the medicine that you need to treat it. Marijuana is medicine, and it’s important to always consider the challenges faced by those who need it the most. Additionally, there are countless cannabis consumers who have accessibility issues, but are completely healthy, and deserve to enjoy cannabis the same as anyone else. Luckily, there are many ways to consume cannabis even for those who may struggle with either their method of consumption or the packaging of their product.
Got any other accessibility tips for cannabis? Share them in the comments!