Connecting the Dots with Nikki Lawley: how consumption bans hurt patients

nikki lawley consumption bans

As a medical cannabis patient, it’s crucial that I be able to consume the plant. Cannabis connects my dots and allows my brain to function. Without cannabis, I am foggy, in pain, and a shell of my true self. 

And while cannabis may be legal in the majority of states, it doesn’t always mean I am free. Consumption bans help no one and are quite discriminatory, in my opinion. Banning public consumption especially hurts patients because cannabis is our medicine. 

RELATED: Connecting the Dots with Nikki Lawley: resources for the medical cannabis patient

No one is judgmental when you pop a pill. However, when one goes outside to medicate via inhalation, there can be immediate judgment, shame, or glaring eyes. One of the things New York got right was allowing cannabis consumption wherever you can consume a cigarette. 

It’s an issue that affects me quite often—in fact, it happened just this week. I was a speaker at an event, and I could not medicate prior to speaking because it was at a university. My presentation suffered because of it.

I feel like we must do better and be kinder to patients regardless of how they consume their medicine. Why not make exceptions? I would’ve happily gone to my car and medicated, but the fear of getting kicked off of campus was real. It’s truly unfortunate, and I know I’m not the only person who deals with this regularly. Many families are affected, choosing whether their sick child goes to school or can take their medicine. We can and should do better.

Progress but not perfection

I have been encouraged by new laws taking effect that protect employees who consume cannabis outside of work. It is so enlightening to have protections for off-duty cannabis consumption. 

What people do on their own time that doesn’t pose a risk of harm to others really is no one‘s business. No one should be shamed for using plant medicine. New York state and others do allow consumption off duty for first responders and other professions. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

RELATED: Jersey City files lawsuit over off-duty police consuming cannabis

In order to continue to move the needle forward, we must talk about cannabis— normalize it. I encourage everyone to be part of the discussions, whether they’re patients or allies. Don’t be ashamed. Let your voice be heard employers need to understand how cannabis and metabolism works. If someone consumed cannabis last night via inhalation, they are not going to be medicated the next day. 

We are so much stronger together. Use your voice to come out of the cannabis closet. Together, we can make a difference.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content. Always consult a healthcare professional before beginning a medical cannabis regimen.

nikki lawley

Nikki Lawley is a patient advocate, speaker, and founder of Nikki and the Plant. She personally discovered cannabis as medicine after suffering a life-changing injury while working as a pediatric nurse. Nikki resides in Buffalo, NY.