Have you ever thought about what it's like to be disabled? It's OK if your answer is, "No." Many of us who are disabled never thought about it either, until it affected us, a friend or a family member. I implore you to consider how important it is to empower the disabled and handicapped and think about how you might be able to help someone. The needs are innumerable. These are some of the things we want to bring to light with The Austin420 and through a new organization for patients called P.A.C.T. (Patients Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics.) P.A.C.T. is a place for patients and caregivers to speak openly and freely, in a safe environment. The meetings will be in handicap friendly places at times that are convenient to patients. It is a platform for patients to talk about their needs and what does and doesn't work for them, as well as a place for caregivers to get information.

There are so many patients suffering who feel unheard in the "cannabis community" due to inaccessibility to meetings and a lack of knowledge about patients' needs. P.A.C.T. will concentrate on everyday needs of patients. These needs can vary widely. They can be as simple as meeting a patient or riding with them to go somewhere for moral support if a person has severe anxiety, PTSD, or agoraphobia or as tough as helping someone go to the bathroom or bathe, and everything in between. Some patients need drivers, or their food cut up for them, or to be turned at night to prevent bed sores. Some need advocates to help them stand up for their rights or help them apply for disability benefits. A patient may need help grocery shopping or getting money out of their wallet to pay for things. Did you know there are patients that can't medicate by themselves? Just think about that for a minute and how many of us take that for granted. Many patients are interested in learning about different strains of Medical Marijuana and different ways it can be ingested, from tinctures to the best ways to cook with Cannabis, to vaporizing, using creams, or the most effective ways to smoke Cannabis. More than anything, though, I think patients need to have meaningful interaction with others. That could be a visit, social media, a phone call, or just getting them out of the house.

If we are going to change the laws in Texas and have Medical Marijuana so that patients don't have to live in fear, then we need our legislators to hear from patients. A patient may or may not be able to get to the Capital to testify on bills pertaining to legalization of Medical Cannabis. One way to help is to provide a ride, and be that patient's assistant for the day with whatever their particular needs are. There are patients out there, who simply cannot make it for a myriad of reasons, but they do accept written and video testimony at the Capital. I couldn't go last time, but someone was kind enough to deliver my video testimony to legislators for me. Some patients may need help preparing to testify, whether it be in person, in writing, or on video. If you are willing to help, please come to a P.A.C.T. empowerment meeting and meet some patients; we'll be having our first one in December. The date, time, and place will be announced soon. You can also go to the P.A.C.T. Facebook group page and interact with other caregivers, patients, and other people looking to help. You don't have to be in a wheelchair to be a patient, although many are. Some disabilities are invisible to others.  We all need to meet and see how we can help each other become empowered and learn about what works for different patients. We are all bound to learn from each other. I can't wait to meet you all in person. ~