The cannabis industry is making headlines each day. Business people are thrilled by the wide-spread attention that estimated tax revenues and industry pioneers have been receiving.

As cannabis becomes more comfortable for traditional business investors and operators, a troubling trend emerges:

Patients are no longer the greatest concern.

This is not meant to be a rant against business people that are entering the space, and should not be viewed as a discussion of opportunism. This article is an overview of accessibility in the cannabis community, and how respect and compassion for those with disabilities has propelled the cannabis movement.

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Accessibility has been such an important consideration so far, and must not be overlooked as the industry moves forward.

California and Access to Medical Cannabis

“Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities.”

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On November 6th, 1996, California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215), establishing protected access to medical cannabis. Accessibility to cannabis was not perfect overnight, but very important groundwork was laid that day.

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Now, twenty years later, California voters must decide if the largest and longest-standing medical cannabis jurisdiction (in the world) will also protect recreational use. Due to unprecedented historical support for cannabis, many analysts believe they will.

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Legalization in California has been largely a discussion of licensing, taxing, and equal protections and opportunities for those wanting to enter the cannabis industry.

Those who participated in the Prop 215 movement in 1996 had many reasons for doing so, including political freedom and the torment of watching friends hopelessly deteriorate from their fights with HIV/AIDS.

In the 1980s, San Francisco Experienced an Epidemic of Deaths from HIV and AIDS

In the 1980s, San Francisco Experienced an Epidemic of Deaths from HIV and AIDS

There were many, many more factors than just those two driving the need for cannabis medicine in California. This is clearly evident in the language of the CUA, which lists qualifying conditions including any illness for which cannabis provides relief.

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By passing this specific language, voters of the largest economical state in America determined that people with disabilities have an inherent right to safe and reliable access to cannabis medicine.

This was in no way a decision driven by business opportunities. It was carried by people who wanted to set a precedent for compassion.

Shifting Cannabis Laws in America

Although there have been hiccups and obstacles with different legislative attempts, there are now twenty-five states with medical cannabis access and an additional sixteen with access to CBD-only medicine (non-psychoactive).

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The CBD-only states have passed laws  due to public outcry over epileptic children having to relocate across the country to find relief. Once again, accessibility for patients in need is able to trump lingering social stigma.

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In addition to the medical progress happening in America right now, four states have implemented bountiful recreational cannabis industries, and this seems to be what the majority of journalistic publications wants to discuss.

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While news regarding industry matters is important, businesses currently fighting for banking privileges must not overlook that the fight for cannabis has always been about access. Most importantly, even for recreational brands, is the need to maintain awareness of the patients who fought for what we have today.

Ways for Businesses to Consider Accessibility

Many successful businesses in the cannabis space have surrounded themselves with compassion and holistic mission statements. We would hope these companies are true to these principals. However, it is up to us as a community to identify and support the brands that truly care about people, and are not just paying a temporary homage to the medical aspects of cannabis.

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How can the community figure out who is walking the walk and not just talking the talk? Here are some practical tips for businesses who want to show their customers they really care about accessibility.

“Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities.”

Whether you are a brick-and-mortar dispensary or an online listing service, it is important to commit to providing accessibility for as many different types of people as possible. Building a comfortable space for people to explore cannabis is necessary, both now and in the future to come.

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Brick-and-mortar retailers are already required to abide by state accessibility laws for business locations. However, those laws are by no means perfect, and are often only held to the minimum requirements. Dispensary owners should be very conscious of how people with conditions involving vision and movement would actually get into the shop.

Yerba Delivery Applies Extra Care for Patients Who Need Special Attention When Accessing Cannabis Medicine

Yerba Delivery Applies Extra Care for Patients Who Need Special Attention When Accessing Cannabis Medicine

Another important note for retailers is keeping resources in place to help an individual who needs immediate accessibility assistance. Delivery services should be extra conscious of this idea, and should make sure that the delivery schedule can account for individuals who need extra attention from a delivering representative.

Sava Delivers Cannabis Across California to Patients Who Are Unable to Access Medicine Locally or Comfortably

Sava Delivers Cannabis Across California to Patients Who Are Unable to Access Medicine Locally or Comfortably

Online platforms are also responsible for creating a space that is accessible to people with disabilities. It is important that everyone is able to perceive, navigate and interact with web technologies, even if it is just a company’s home page.

CannabisReports.com is Consciously Designed So Folks with Visual Impairments Can Easily Absorb and Navigate the Database

CannabisReports.com is Consciously Designed So Folks with Visual Impairments Can Easily Absorb and Navigate the Database

New technologies are constantly being introduced that address the needs of people with “visual, auditory, physical, speech cognitive and neurological disabilities.” Everyone from big databases to small web pages should spend some effort keeping their technology accessible for the largest range of people possible.

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Cannabis patients are exposed to many services and environments (like expos and conventions) that are not specific to one brand. These are the defining moments for accessibility in cannabis.

If the event host provides a comfortable setting that considers a variety of disabilities, every company in attendance should strive to offer the same opportunities and services for the many people that make up the cannabis community. Respecting disabilities is precedent that the industry must believe in to be successful even in recreational markets.

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Cannabis means so many things to each individual, and has embraced humans in medical, recreational, and spiritual ways. As cannabis becomes more socially acceptable, it is necessary that the excitement of the industry does not overshadow the importance of the people they serve.

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