If you’ve been following me on social media for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been working toward a community for blind and visually impaired cannabis users. I started the project with an initial survey back in 2022 and hoped to have things up and running by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, but the best laid plans bla bla bla. Fast forward to the summer of 2023 and the community is built, so we just need to get some people on board. Before I tell you how you can become a member of this new and exciting community, I would like to explain a bit about why I decided it should exist. It’s good to understand so you know what to expect if you join.
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Why Build Such a Thing?
Until 2018, I was a healthy, functioning member of society. In the spring of that year, I started feeling tired all the time. I ignored this because I’m an insomniac, but as spring turned into summer and then winter (there are no seasons in this part of the U.S.), I began experiencing chronic pain to go along with the fatigue. I followed up with my doctor, that doctor referred me to another doctor and so on until I had more doctors than answers.
By the end of 2020, I’d had quite enough thank you very much. My state had just legalized medical cannabis within the last few years and I began giving it serious consideration. The trouble was I didn’t know how to fillet the application. Or how to use it even if I was approved. Or, and no community can entirely solve this problem, if I went for the evaluation and didn’t get approved, or if the doctor doing the evaluation decided I must be faking because I don’t look sick, how would I deal with that? There are many people with invisible disabilities that will understand this anxiety perfectly.
In 2022, I took a trip with family for a weekend to one of the nearby tourist towns . I spent that weekend somewhere between being able to function and wanting to sleep forever so it wouldn’t hurt anymore. When I got back, I applied immediately. If the doctor wouldn’t help, I’d find another one.
The next few months were spent learning about what method of consumption worked best for me. What dose should I take so I don’t incapacitate myself? How would I measure the dose? What would be the safest method for me to consume it? How would I maintain that method?
These questions are part of managing any medication. The difference is most medications only have a few choices, but cannabis has many more. I’ve since found methods and techniques that work for me.
If Your Questions are Answered, Why do this?
The fact of the matter is as soon as states started legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, it technically fell under medication management. Medication management is one of the core areas of visual rehabilitation therapy (the field that shows blind and visually impaired users adaptive techniques for living independently with vision loss) and I have yet to find a provider of these services that covers this areas it relates to medical cannabis use. Furthermore, cannabis is like sex—people will do it whether they have the means to be safe about it or not.
Through many conversations revolving around these points, I learned a few more things. For example, people still are grappling with taught beliefs and values surrounding this topic. They may benefit from it, but if, like mental health, it lives in a no-talk zone, the chances that person will get what they need are significantly reduced. Since one of the biggest impacts of blindness is hindered access to information, the problem is that much bigger. Once I got my head around that, it was time to figure out what to do about it.
Since a community without people is just a pretty web page, I decided to figure out what blind and visually impaired people would want from a community like this. In summary, they wanted a place to exchange adaptive techniques for safe consumption, pdiscuss roducts that were or were not accessible to them, a place to meet other like-minded individuals and they wanted a bit of privacy. Grappling with the issue of age verification and making sure I had moderation tools to get me started as soon as possible had me leaning toward Reddit, Discord, or some decentralized version of one of those. When Reddit rolled out its API changes, the choice was made for me and I set about building the Discord server.
How Do I Join?
Some excellent news! I was able to use Discord tools to screen for the age limit. You must be 18+ years old. If this sounds like a community for you, then visit changeling.mx/bvi420. This link takes you directly to the server. If you have any problems/concerns, please send an email to email@example.com. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you there!