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Emily: Hi. I’m Emily Ladau.
Kyle: I’m Kyle Khachadurian.
Emily: You’re listening to another episode of The Accessible Stall.
Kyle: What are we going to talk about today, Emily?
Emily: We’re going to talk about cannabis.
Emily: Yes. Actually we’re not going to talk about cannabis just by ourselves because between the two of us, I think we could fit what we know into a thimble, but we have one of my favorite humans in the literal world. Cannabis connoisseur, Kings Floyd here today. Kings, would you like to share more about yourself?
Kings: Thank you, Emily. Thank you, Kyle, for bringing me up the podcast. Hi, this is Kings Floyd. I am a cannabis researcher and disability advocate. I’m here to talk about Mary Jane.
Emily: Yes, okay. I feel like a fun drinking game that people at home can play, not that I encourage drinking – I highly recommend doing this with apple juice – is, how many different ways can we refer to marijuana on this podcast?
Kings: Challenge accepted.
Emily: I feel like I’m going to learn some new ones tonight.
Kings: I don’t know. I’m really the background just to make sure I can keep up.
Emily: Mary Jane is all I’ve got. We’re going to talk about the Mary Jane, the marijuana, the cannabis, the good stuff.
Kings: The graph.
Emily: That was an obvious one.
Kings: All right.
Emily: All right. Now that everyone’s really good and drunk on their apple juice, feeling really great about this, can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up becoming a cannabis researcher and, I would say, advocate?
Kings: For those who don’t know me, I’ve been involved in the disco, or disability community, for all of my life, but professionally about seven or eight years. In the last year and a half, my muscular dystrophy got to a point where the scoliosis was becoming really painful on my back.
My doctors were trying all of these different medications, and I would say medications intentionally, to try and alleviate that pain and that stress. I was going through a lot of opioids specifically that were super high intensity that depleted my cognitive ability that wouldn’t allow me to engage in regular social life.
When I got a medical marijuana prescription, it really changed the way I looked at pain. It allowed me to develop my toolkit and tolerance levels for dealing with every day pain in a much more reasonable, accommodating way.
Emily: I feel like we need to highlight the fact that you’re specifically a user of cannabis for its pain relieving purposes.
Kings: Not just as pain relieving purposes. That was when I started into it, but it’s actually an appetite increaser for those who’ve also got muscular disabilities. Keeping up our weight is really important. Being hungry at the right time is not something I’m always good at. It’s a nausea suppressant if you have a stomach bug.
It’s a muscle spasm reducer, so for someone with muscle spasms and actually epilepsy as well, which I also have, check. It’s a drug that treats a lot of different results of symptoms of chronic disabilities.
Emily: I think that’s really important to highlight. There are actual values to cannabis use and not just for fun. I feel like there is a lot of stigma around that, but we’re probably going to buy into the stigma for a second or play into it because I know Kyle has a very important question for you.
Kyle: Absolutely. I would love to know what your favorite munchies food is.
Kings: I am always a sucker for [0:04:09 gold] fish, stoned or otherwise.
Kyle: Me too.
Kings: I am a baked cheese and crackers fan even though I’m lactose intolerant. Love is pain. I would say the ultimate go-to for me is a pico de gallo chips and salsa. That is what it comes down to a guac and talk, as my friend Carly would say, of just chips and guacamole and pico de gallo or salsa, that’s where home base is.
Emily: Excellent choices. I mean–
Emily: — you said appetite increaser, so I felt like it was only reasonable for Kyle to ask that very important question.
Kings: It is. Everyone’s going to have their preference. Obviously, everything is in moderation, too, because the munchies don’t always necessarily mean you’re being mindful about eating, which is still really important to do when you’re smoking or using cannabis, but it’s also a great tool to be able to eat properly and stay healthy.
Emily: Can we talk a little bit about cannabis in terms of a 101 situation? What is it that people should know?
Kings: Sure. If you’re looking at a cannabis leaf, it’s got seven different leaves on an individual stem. That’s a really easy way to think about. There are seven different major cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients that make you feel things that your body reacts to.
The two major ones that society and consumption focus on right now are THC and CBD, but there are five other cannabinoids that add to those properties that can help that we don’t have research on yet.
Emily: She knows her [bleep], you guys.
Kyle: Yes, I didn’t know that at all. I already learned something. It’s been like six minutes.
Kings: Fantastic. We’d like to hear. Tell me something I don’t know.
Kyle: Can you talk a little bit about the overlap between cannabis use and disability in terms of usage and in terms of community?
Kyle: Do you find that stigma for cannabis use is higher or lower in disability circles and disability stigma is higher or lower in cannabis circles? It’s that a thing?
Emily: That’s a great question.
Kings: That is a great question. There’s a lot of ways you can look at that. You can look at the community base, how many people with disabilities use cannabis as a resource for whatever they’re dealing with, so medically. There’s also a lot of advocacy about leveling a stigma or a stereotype, so disabled individuals, people with disabilities are much better at advocating and saying, “Hey, we’re going to use the tools that work for us to go on with our lives.”
I think that ability to be resourceful has brought the disability community to cannabis. I don’t think cannabis has yet come to the disability community. I don’t think the medical marijuana market has fully grown to its potential because we haven’t even begun to do the research like I said about what this can do, or Homo sapiens as a race.
Emily: Cannabis for the Homo sapiens is Kings’s platform 2020.
Kyle: I’d vote for you.
Emily: I don’t know if we should have said this at the beginning, but we both live in locations, or all three of us live in locations where medical marijuana is a thing. I know that not all of our listeners live in locations where they have access to medical marijuana because Kings currently resides in Washington, DC. Kyle and I currently reside in New York. We have limited problems getting our hands on this. I know that I’m actually going to be going through the process of getting…
Kyle: Your green card?
Kings: Yes, your green card.
Emily: My green card. Whatever it is, I mean I’m super pumped because I do find that I struggle with traditional pain medications so I’m super looking forward to this; but that’s not the reality for everyone. I mean I don’t really know what my question is here, but do you have thoughts on that?
Kings: Sure. I’ll tell you a little bit about where medical and general legalization stand on a national level. There are 32 places, both the District of Columbia and states that have legalized for medical reasons and decriminalized and/or legalized recreationally in the United States. That is wonderful.
That is so much more than it was 10 or 20 years ago. 1996 was the first year that cannabis was legalized for medical reasons in California, but there’s a lot more to go. Like I said, there’s a lot of states where this is still a really big stigma and you get drug tested. I’m actually going to a hearing on Thursday for DCH communities for the DC Counsel about what it looks like to drug test, not federal agents, but city agents where that would actually normally be illegal.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, cannabis isn’t covered because it’s a schedule one drug, but in states such as Michigan and New Jersey, people are starting to see community support around there being an exception to the rule when it comes to medical cannabis. The thing people haven’t figured out yet is, “Okay, you’re using cannabis in your personal time outside of your nine to five or whenever you work,” but what does that look when the people are drug tested in the workplace and they say, “No, I’m not high,” but they still have cannabis in their system. We don’t have a non-stigmatized way to look at that and say, “This person is valuably contributing even though they’re using this medication.
Emily: I mean I guess that raises a really good point. How do we start to make cannabis accessible to people? I think I mean that two-folds. First of all, how do we ensure that people who are taking cannabis for medical reasons are not punished for it and then also, how do we make this a more available resource for people in general? Because right now I still feel like it’s either harder to get your hands on it, or once you do get your hands on it then you’re almost inevitably going to face some stigmatization or problem in the workplace, or you’re just going to run into some barrier.
Kings: I ran into a lot of stigmas about it at my last job. It was something that I felt really conflicted about because I couldn’t bring full self to work, but I also was super ill. I had a bunch of different muscle reactions to different medications and was trying to figure out how I could bring my full self to work while not using this drug that’s literally prohibited.
That can be a challenge especially for a community that’s already oppressed and already denied a lot of resources. I’m going to tell you what every politician would tell you and that is go out and vote. There are a lot of elections, in Virginia especially coming up, that are incredibly important to medical and recreational legalization if that’s something you’re interested in that are coming up.
The presidential candidates are being asked about it in national debate platforms. It’s something that people can advocate for in the here and now even and especially if it’s researched, because that is what we need the most. This vape pen epidemic is coming from a lot of artificial chemicals and reactions that are being put in by black market connoisseur. Sorry, not connoisseur, cannabis producers who are putting in this vitamin E acetate chemical and others that are noxious at a certain temperature and will give you adverse reaction and adverse effects instead.
In some instances, I think there have been eight deaths across the United States. It’s something that’s not really known. I don’t think vaping is the end all be all. I don’t think it’s cigarettes. I think we need to find a better way to mark the research on this because the market is so not metered. It’s not recorded and produced in any way that we can start building research on it.
Emily: It seems like there’s a lack of regulation that can cause real harm to people, and also because of the lack of legalization in certain places, it can also cause real harm because, of course, you’re going to go to the black market–
Kings: Right, exactly. It’s not alcohol and i don’t like using this comparison but it is also something that could be a choice for the American people if we chose to legalize it with restrictions above 21, not while you’re driving, et cetera. Society comes up with to say this is a suitable way to keep people safe. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that it could be legalized recreationally.
Emily: Right. Make smart choices.
Kings: Right. Make good choices, that’s what I always say.
Kyle: I mean that makes sense to us. Speaking of good choices, I’m very curious to know about your first time using cannabis.
Kings: My first time using cannabis, my very good friend, Willie, who is also a personal care assistant of mine. We became best friends sophomore year of college. Senior year, I said, “Willie, I have one thing on my bucket list, and that is to try weed.” I don’t want to do it at a party. I don’t want to feel pressured. I don’t want to feel like people are watching me. I want to try it once.
I want to say, “If I don’t like this, I can put it away.” I don’t drink alcohol. It’s not something my body reacts well to. I have not had… not interested in drinking alcoholic beverages and so I really just wanted to see. A lot of friends had told me, I had friends who are cancer patients, friends who have spina bifida, friends who have other neurocognitive or neuromuscular disabilities and beyond that say, “This was really helpful to me.”
Senior year was the year that I got a concussion, had a couple of falls. I was really not the best picture of health or hallmark. I said, “Willie, I want to try this.” We went in her super inaccessible bedroom basement down of flight of stairs, which her boyfriend carried me down, or up. We sat on her bed and smoked a joint. She didn’t know what kind of strain it was. She knew it would make me giggly, and she knew it would make me happy, and she knew it would make my muscle spasms stop, but that is the only thing she knew.
I looked her in the eyes and I said, “Willie, I’m taking a chance. This is something I’m putting in my body, like you’re not going to let me do anything terrible.” She said, “No, you’re going to be fine.” We smoked the joint. We fell asleep laughing to each other making stupid puns at 11 o’clock at night so like a very reasonable… it was not a 4:00 a.m. party night, it was we got high together on her bed and ate popcorn and fell asleep. It was the most sheltered experience and that is exactly what I wanted. She had smoked before. I had not. We had a bag of Smartfood Popcorn, so we consumed that entirely.
Emily: I mean this is a beautiful story.
Kings: Right, and there was popcorn in our bed. It’s what cemented our friendship really. She lives in Prague now and is just doing her life fabulously as a coordinator for an Anglo American school abroad. I never would have tried it if it hadn’t been for her initial support and then also for her providing a safe, stable environment for me to try it.
Kyle: That is so ideal. I’m trying to remember my first time and it was nothing like that. I was peer-pressured by a friend. It wasn’t like, “This will take your pain away,” although it totally did. It’s just like, “You should try it. It’ll make you feel good.” I wasn’t opposed to it, so I did. It was really bad, skunk ass weed and I felt nothing, but then 20 minutes later I enjoyed a Dr Pepper for the first time in my life. I guess it must have done something.
Then years later when I lived in DC, I lived with this couple who were just avid marijuana users for every reason. The wife had CP, who is my friend and she sat me down. She was like, “This is the only thing that takes away my pain better than my prescribed pain medication.” At first I was like, “Shut up.” You know what I mean? How can that possibly be?
That’s just something that people say because they want to smoke weed, but she insisted that I try it and it totally works. You mentioned earlier that you… did you say that you tried opioids, like various kinds or–?
Kings: Yes. I’ve had not only a bunch of surgeries, but several intense epileptic events where I’ve had to take both headache medication and pain medication. It makes you so cloudy.
Kyle: Yes, it does. I take a prescription opioid now as needed. I don’t like it because it does take the pain away not as good as marijuana, of course, but it also makes me feel cloudy just like you said. I remember when I smoked with my friend the first time in DC, I was like, “Holy [bleep]. Is this what able people feel like?” I didn’t even care about being high. I was like, “Yo, is this what it feels like to not be in pain all the time?”
I was like, I don’t want to say hooked because that sounds like an addiction, but I was an advocate for legalizing marijuana before but after that, I was like, “We have to do this as a society.”
Kings: I was in favor of legalizing it up until college even before the time that I tried it because I knew the results of cancer patients and other value it provides to communities, but I’m pretty sure I did say to Willie on that night like, “I feel like an AB. I’m not in pain. I could feel all my joints. What is happening?”
Emily: AB is able-bodied for all you ABs out there.
Kings: Thank you, Emily, for being the disco dictionary.
Emily: Honestly, I have only tried pot twice in my life, and it is not for any fear of it. It’s just once was surrounded by a group of friends, and one was with a particular person who made me feel safe.
Kings: That’s important.
Emily: I think that the safety aspect of it is incredibly important.
Kings: Unfortunately, that is something that the disability community and the cannabis community unfortunately can work on. Because there, I was trying to do research in advance for this podcast and talking with you guys about the number of people with disabilities and the number of nonviolent marijuana convictions and how those communities overlap.
There is a lot of evidence, but not a lot of conclusive correlated information, that talks about these different communities. You think about who is… these nonviolent drug offenders who probably use for their own medical and personal reasons. This is not just a physical prog, this is also for anxiety and depression and ADHD. When you combine all of those things that it can help someone with, yes, it’s going to be…
There’s probably a lot of different people and there’s going to be a lot of overlap within the disability community. The thing that I would really love to see is the disability community and the cannabis community coming together to find a way to reform these incarcerated… or not reformed because they don’t need to be reformed, that’s the thing. They’re in prison for nonviolent medical marijuana charges, and it’s now becoming legal.
People are doing what they did ten years ago weekly now. We haven’t caught up and said, “Okay. We forgive you. That’s not a big deal. I’m sorry, we were so late to the party.” That’s something that we need to come up with a plan with. We need to collaborate on as quickly as possible because people do not deserve to rot in jail, or making themselves feel better about their medication and health.
Emily: We need to reform the policy if not people basically.
Emily: Yes, I think that’s incredibly true because a lot of people who are just using it for the sake of seeking relief, especially those people, don’t deserve to end up in jail because of it. Although I know Kings, you and I were talking before and you were saying that it was really, really hard to even find any statistics on the number of people incarcerated related to cannabis, or even related to disability in general.
Kings: Yes, I’ve found some wonderful statistics, but none that directly correlated the ratio of people who are incarcerated. I want to make this clear. It’s nonviolent crimes. The only thing that they’ve done incorrectly or petty is using and selling this drug, but going back to… we’re sad and talking about how his friend sat him down and it was like, “This is great for you.”
Cannabis leaf, we put out a study about a month ago. Leafly is a cannabis resource website. Cannabis to countries and states where it’s legalized reduced opioid deaths by 21%. Not only are you reducing the number of people that could be in jail, you’re reducing the number of people that can die for a related medical reason.
Kyle: That’s incredible. That’s amazing because I did not know that at all. Did you, Emily?
Emily: No. I think there’s a very complex issue at play here I guess because I know that opioids are a point of contention politically right now as well. I know that many people do genuinely use opioids for pain relief. I have in the past certainly used opioids for pain relief.
I, however, have the opposite of an addictive personality. I have a please-get-me-off-this-right-now personality where I tried to stop. When I needed opioids, I have tried to stop them well before it would be advised by a medical professional to stop it.
Kings: Same. Same. I went to the hospital after a pretty severe… this is exposing, but I had a breast reduction to try and decrease the pressure that they were putting on my spine.
Emily: Girl, same.
Kings: It’s a pretty intense surgery, am I right?
Emily: It really is. It’s really not fun. If you could see Kyle’s face right now…
Kyle: I’m just sitting here in solidarity.
Kings: That’s good. We appreciate that. Thank you. It’s painful. I was on opioids for three days, and I went back to the hospital because my gastrointestinal system and digestive system were shutting down. The opioids had flooded my 90 pound body and I was like my organs were not functioning, not working. That is not something that I wanted to have three days after a super intense surgery. I wonder how my recovery and recuperation period would have gone had I had access to medical marijuana at that time.
Emily: I think that’s a very valid question. I more recently have thought about that a lot especially because my most painful surgery was a procedure for basically straightening out my spine back when I was in high school. I was on a whole cocktail of opioids for quite a while. Again, I am not pushing opioids stigma here because I recognize that for some people, they’re legitimately the only solution to pain. I completely respect what people need to do for their bodies.
For me, I was very paranoid. I had a lot of trouble sleeping, but then I would fall asleep mid-sentence. I was told multiple times that I would be falling asleep mid-sentence while I was on heavy amount of opioids. I just find myself wishing that I had had some alternatives to try to deal with the pain, but the thing is that now even ten years later, I have so much residual pain from my procedures that I’ve been looking for relief.
I’m the type of person who will take ibuprofen and muscle relaxants, but I can’t really afford to… and I don’t mean financially, but I mean like my physically cannot afford to introduce opioids back into my life. I really want an alternative. That’s why I’m going to be looking into medical marijuana.
Kings: My family will tell you that I turn into one of those blow up animal or balloon car things that are outside car washes that flop.
Emily: The flying things.
Kings: When you get on really serious opioids and/or pain medications, and I do, Emily, want to thank you for bringing this up. I am not advocating in favor of cannabis versus opioids for everything and everyone. I’m saying that should be an alternative that is offered in order to help people recover in the most successful, healthy way. I completely understand there are still a need for opioids in certain conditions and I’m not against them as a tool. I just think we should have more tools in our toolbox.
Emily: I think that’s a great way to look at it. Also, I would just go one step further and say that I still think marijuana can be supplementary to opioids as well. Far from a medical expert here, but I think I feel safe enough to say that it doesn’t need to be an either or situation.
Kings: I agree completely.
Emily: It needs to be a what works for me right to get me out a pain situation. I know the three of us know a thing or two about pain. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of ground here, but being that Kyle and I are not cannabis connoisseurs, is there anything we missed, or, Kyle, do you think that we missed anything?
Kyle: I don’t know if we miss anything. Although I wanted to say this, and I didn’t figure out a place to say, but now that you’ve asked me, I really appreciate, Kings, how you constantly throughout this episode referred to cannabis as medicine and not as drug except for when using it specifically in relation to opioids and other drugs.
I think that little things like that really helped to reduce the stigma because when you frame it in the sense of like, “Why don’t you let me have my medicine?” I really think… and it’s just something I realized in hearing you talk. I never thought of this before. It makes it a lot easier for people who I would assume would be against this type of thing to digest.
Kings: That’s the thing, Kyle, that I want to push. It can really be a resource if we make good choices and use it properly. Not abusing it is how we get the health benefits, how we get the research, how we can promote it as an advocacy tool for multiple marginalized communities.
Emily: How do you feel about the prospects of expanding access to it and legalization just based on what you know about it? Because right now the people that I know who do use medical marijuana, or at least the people that I know in New York State, they have to go somewhere and they are working with the pharmacist but it’s not a pharmacist who’d act like your average CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens or Rite Aid.
It’s still this very separate thing, but when they’re there, it’s still referred to as medicine. I mean do you think we’re ever going to reach a point where you can go to your CVS Pharmacy counter and there will be a marijuana expert behind the counter as well?
Kings: I hope so. I think a lot is going to depend on whether people get out to vote and especially creep to vote in the next coming elections both locally, regionally, and federally. I think it’s important to recognize that it will potentially, and this is my guess, be legalized medically before it’s legalized recreationally.
I think that’s an important distinction because I feel like we need to prioritize this as a resource for the people who need it, for the disability community because it is, as Kyle said, a medicine. It’s not something we should abuse.
Emily: I’m hoping that we reach that point.
Kyle: Me too.
Emily: At the end of every episode, we like to do what we call final takeaways, which is where we ask our lovely guest to give a bit of a wrap up and let us know what it is that you want us to take away about this. I mean I think that you made so many good points about getting out to vote, about destigmatizing, decriminalizing, and also recognizing that it is medicine and it has value but that we’re not trying to pit it against opioids. I mean I feel like I just did your wrap up for you, but if you could leave our listeners with one thing to take away, what would it be?
Kings: I would tell them if they wanted to check out additional resources, they should check out my website, which is kingsfloyd.com/kingsofcannabis and they can find out more about not only the obtaining of a medical marijuana card in DC specifically, but also reach out to me for resources as well as just fun descriptions and funny stories about my journey with medical cannabis and how I’ve been making it work for me.
Emily: Girl, promote that brand.
Kyle: Where else can people find you? Feel free to plug everything you have.
Kings: Sweet. All the social media bases are covered, Insta, Facebook, Twitter, Kings Floyd. I would love to connect with anyone who has more questions, not just medically but recreationally. I understand that we have more than just disabled listeners on board who may want to try this out, but I do want to make it clear the I am promoting it medically specifically first.
Emily: Also, I feel like we’re probably going to have to say at the beginning of the show some medical disclaimer. We’re not doctors.
Kings: Good. Yes.
Emily: I’m just realizing that now.
Kings: We are not medical experts. I do not consider myself a medical or cannabis expert. Cannabis connoisseur, definitely. I’ve tried over a hundred strains at this point and I know what works and what doesn’t work. That’s another thing. The first strain that you try will probably not be the strain that works the best for you. Talking with your “pharmacist” is actually really helpful. The two dispensaries that I’ve used in DC have been phenomenal for really thinking through the symptoms and realities of different strains and how they could benefit me.
Emily: I mean I remember when we’ve had conversations about this, you’re like, “Let’s sit down and actually talk about what each strain does.” You whipped out an app on your phone and we’re like, “Here’s details.”
Kings: Leafly and StickyGuide are both great references for different types of strains. It’s really worth doing the research on because there are so many options. Basic cannabis 101, which I feel like we jumped over is there’s seven cannabinoids, but there’s also two or three main types of weed, and that is Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid. The way people think of that is Indica is mostly a mental based; Sativa is mostly a body based; and a Hybrid is a combination of both. There are thousands of different combinations.
Emily: I mean I think the fact that we got to that at the literal end of the podcast shows that people really need to do their homework. I think that is my final takeaway here. Do your homework, figure out if it’s right for you. Obviously, we’re not pressuring you any which way. We just felt like this was something that was really important for people to feel safe having a conversation about. That’s why we’re doing this episode.
Kings: Also, you don’t have to smoke it. That’s another stigma like it’s smelly and it’s gross and you inhale it. That’s one option, but it’s not the only option and there’s really so many possibilities of how this can benefit you.
Emily: Speaking of somebody who absolutely does not like breathing things in but can definitely get behind brownies and gummy bears, yes.
Kyle: Hard same.
Emily: Kyle, you got a final takeaway?
Kings: Kyle, done already.
Emily: Well said.
Kyle: Yes, right. No. This episode was great. Emily said you were an expert, but I didn’t realize exactly how much of one you were.
Emily: You see I know we were specifically instructed to refer to you as a connoisseur and not an expert…
Kyle: I’m sorry, a connoisseur.
Emily: … but I really do think that Kings knows her stuff and she’s definitely one of the people who’s made me more comfortable with the idea of medical cannabis.
Kyle: Absolutely. Thank you so much for your time.
Kings: You know what? Thank you, Emily and Kyle. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to be a resource and I’m here to make you all feel better.
Emily: She’s the literal best, one of my IRL favorite people best friends, favorite humans in the universe. Go hit her up if you have questions. I think that has been probably one of the most informative, worthwhile episodes that we’ve done.
Kings: Thank you both so much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it.
Emily: Thanks for being here. This has been another episode of The Accessible Stall.
Kyle: If you’d like to support The Accessible Stall, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or donate to our Patreon. Just $1 a month ensures that current and future episodes of The Accessible Stall – I don’t know the name of our own show, will remain accessible – and might we say, “You look good today.”