Common Sense Cannabis Consumption: A Patient’s Perspective

Jeremy Robbins, Patient Advocate

To my elected officials and local leaders,
 
My name is Jeremy Robbins and I use medical cannabis because I broke my neck in a bicycling accident nearly 20 years ago. I am paralyzed and have severe spasms and chronic pain, but I do not take any narcotics to mitigate my symptoms, instead I consume cannabis oil and concentrates.
 
I have held my medical cannabis card for almost 17 years, and I have found a method of cannabis consumption and dosage that meets my medical needs and addresses my symptoms; and my physicians have always been supportive of my care regimen. I have a profound disability, and the draconian laws around cannabis consumption that limit access impact me and others who rely on cannabis profoundly and negatively.
 
I have never been in any sort of legal trouble with cannabis (or anything else for that matter), but I feel like a criminal in my own home as I have no place to legally consume cannabis. This is because I live in public housing and due to the nature of funding, I could be evicted for using my state and physician approved medicine. Medicine which does not have the addictive risk or extreme cost of opioids which are permitted in public housing.
 
I strongly believe we need spaces for people to legally consume cannabis. I have used public consumption spaces in Amsterdam, Holland, and Vancouver B.C. In the U.S. I have accessed these spaces in California in the East Bay of Oakland, in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Humboldt County, within Washington in Olympia and Seattle, and lastly in Portland before the laws changed to include Cannabis in the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act when “public use” was also barred. Cannabis consumers in Oregon need this and we need this now.
 
Places for safe, legal consumption not only would solve this issue for many in similar living conditions (like low-income public funded apartments), and they would also serve as a community hub for those needing this accommodation. Build it and they will come!
 
People living in low income residences, and people with disabilities need social consumption space because we often struggle to get out into the community and engage as citizens. This would encourage community-participation and improve social and emotional health for  individuals. Making connections with others of similar interests and abilities vastly improves the quality of lives for people and especially those with disabilities. Passing this law would remove an additional layer of ostracization and “othering” that we often face.
 
In terms of preferred spaces, as a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility, having physical access is another significant issue for places of consumption. I need to be able to move around and get into the restroom with relative ease. One would think in our world with ADA laws this would not be an issue, but I have to fight for accessibility every day. Most bars and pubs do not have this sort of access and it can be challenging to navigate them, instead a dedicated and thought out place of consumption would work well – newer buildings have the best ADA access in my experience and so I would hope to find a space in one of the plethora of current building projects in Portland. This could really benefit the state on many levels if they would consider this in the process of rulemaking for legal, safe and accessible social consumption when the law passes.
 
In closing, I want to reiterate my support of spaces for cannabis consumption in Oregon that can benefit many that, like me, are stuck in a legal conundrum not being able to consume in a Federally funded apartment or as a consequence of recent updates to the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act. This would have the added benefit of serving as a community hub and destination for marginalized communities. Please consider my story as you consider upcoming legislation in 2019.
 
I am proud that my local legislative officials serve as the Majority Leaders in the House and the Senate. I hope as such, I can count on your support to lead on this issue of access that I — and many others in your districts and across the state — face.
 
Respectfully,
 
Jeremy John Robbins, Senate District 18 & House District 36
 
 

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