Voices How Cannabis Helped Me Reclaim Power in My Disability By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice, who has worked for three academic institutions across Canada. Her essay, “Inclusive Reproductive Justice,” was in the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book. Learn about our editorial process Published on August 23, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Claire Eggleston, LMFT-Associate Medically reviewed by Claire Eggleston, LMFT-Associate Claire Eggleston, LMFT-Associate is a neurodivergent therapist and specializes in and centers on the lived experiences of autistic and ADHD young adults, many of whom are also in the queer and disability communities. She prioritizes social justice and intertwines community care into her everyday work with clients. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Mia Mingus' "Access Intimacy" Unpacking Internalized Ableism Finding Disability Pride For decades, I have encouraged both clients in my professional work as a social worker and loved ones in my personal life to benefit from cannabis use—especially when it provided relief from health concerns. Despite this, it would still take years for me to reckon with that bias personally, as a woman of South Asian heritage who had taken in a great deal of the war on drugs propaganda that was a staple of my childhood. As a disabled person who navigates migraines, sleep issues, back pain, etc., I have come to understand cannabis use as part of my evolving disability pride. In fact, it hit me after missing my scheduled phone interview with a source for my first freelance writing gig at a dollar-per-word rate during a particularly terrible cycle of migraines and sleep issues fueling each other. After venting to my old colleague and friend shortly after this embarrassing incident, she revisited her earlier recommendation of cannabidiol (CBD). While she was not the first to suggest CBD use, it had always felt like too much to unpack all that I had been essentially brainwashed into believing was "drugs," and that was aside from my concern regarding the cost. Mia Mingus' "Access Intimacy" I cannot recall when I first encountered the brilliance of Mia Mingus' concept of access intimacy, but it has often informed how I make sense of my place and that of loved ones in a world that deems us disposable. Having been failed by institutions that have co-opted the language of accessibility without investing in the necessary work of challenging ableism, I know all too well how rarely access needs are fully met. Thankfully, access intimacy offers a framework for "that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else 'gets' your access needs," which was a necessary part of my journey into cannabis use for a better quality of life. If my partner was not the first to suggest cannabis for my sleep issues, he was undeniably the initial person who made me seriously consider trying it. I remember thinking that I was not due back to my university job for at least a week, so it would be a rare convenient time to attempt edibles and get comfortable with the idea of using cannabis. Having been failed by institutions that have co-opted the language of accessibility without investing in the necessary work of challenging ableism, I know all too well how rarely access needs are fully met. The local dispensary would be out of many cannabis products over that holiday season, but especially edibles. By the time they were back in stock, my worry over finances was too steep to consider another expense. And back then, having not yet experienced the benefits of cannabis use to manage pain, sleep, etc., exploration of CBD went on the back burner. That missed interview would force me to reflect on how much had changed since my initial discussion with my partner about trying CBD. I no longer commuted hours daily to serve disabled students at an institution that targeted me relentlessly, so why not explore this? From that point, I got my partner's product recommendations and did my best to plan accordingly. In the event that I needed more time in between use of CBD edibles to be functional for freelance work, I trusted that I could rely on his knowledge to survive the process. Learning to Accept a Visible Disability This Disability Pride Month Unpacking Internalized Ableism While I was initially only willing to try CBD edibles, I soon found that they were not all I needed to manage the daily assault of migraine, sleep issues, and back pain, especially when a great deal of my stress is caused by surviving oppression, which I have yet to eliminate as a trigger. Over the last three months, I have tried a variety of cannabis products, and come to realize that a combination of CBD and THC helps me to function best. Disability Pride: The Strain of Trying to be Proud During this time, I have thought a lot about how much less daunting life feels when it no longer includes the prospect of surviving chronic pain daily. In conversation with a friend after this realization, I commented about how my grandparents would disapprove of this development, to which she hilariously responded, "Not only that!" After a few shared giggles, she continued in a much more somber tone to tell me that while she had never met my grandparents, she had heard enough stories of how they loved me unconditionally to believe that if THC could help me to cope with pain, they would want me to access that relief. She had heard enough stories of how they loved me unconditionally to believe that if THC could help me to cope with pain, they would want me to access that relief. The reason I feel compelled to share my story is that I know from my background as a mental health therapist how shame can serve as a barrier to exploring resources even when they may assist us to navigate disabilities. Although it often feels as if I have little control over dismantling the systems of oppression that harm the communities I hold dear after white supremacist workplace harassment has pushed me out of multiple jobs, my ability to get published on issues of marginalization provides an opportunity to assist others to unpack their unhelpful biases. As My Understanding of Privilege and Oppression Evolved, So Did My Relationships Finding Disability Pride As a fat, brown, queer, immigrant woman, and settler on Turtle Island, I write this for those of us who are often deemed disposable by the problematic status quo, who may struggle to find disability pride when July rolls around, especially when one's chiropractor is overseas and one struggles with exploring new service providers following trauma. I share all these details because I know that the personal is always political, and I grasp that our liberation will never come from hoarding our insights about how to best survive oppression in the bodies we inhabit. I am as knowledgeable about oppression as I have ever been, thanks to the experiential learning that comes from constructive dismissal, so I am well aware of how many factors are out of my control. In this way, a combination of CBD and THC products offers one of the few resources to help me survive this world with my critical mind in the body I inhabit. Learning to Identify With a Disability That Isn't Evident 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Valentine D. Shifting the Weight of Inaccessibility: Access Intimacy as a Critical Phenomenological Ethos. Critically Sick: New Phenomenologies of Illness, Madness, and Disability. 2020;3(2):76-94. doi:10.5399/pjcp.v3i2.9 By Krystal Jagoo Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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