NIKKI LAWLEY is a passionate medical cannabis advocate with a growing network of cannabis patients who suffer from traumatic brain injury. She discovered cannabis after suffering a ”TBI,” or traumatic brain injury, along with a cervical instability injury in 2016.
While working as a pediatric nurse, an uncooperative child, about her size was refusing to cooperate to get a routine immunization. She ended up getting head-butted in her forehead and thrown into a wall and back into the boy’s head. Her life immediately changed and she was never able to work as a pediatric nurse again.
After trying well over 50 medications / saw 60 plus medical providers and nothing was helping. No one had answers. In despair, Nikki found cannabis as a last resort. It helped her tremendously. Her mission since then has become educating others-especially those with brain injuries that often only cannabis can help.
“Cannabis should be offered as a first-line treatment rather than a last resort.” – Nikki Lawley, Cannabis Advocate, pictured above.
What’s your morning routine, and what do you think about in the mornings?
Every day is a new beginning. A new start. It’s important to remind myself to understand that, as I’m not working in a job, my goal is to live each day the best I can. Without regrets or feelings of what I should have done or been. And to be an advocate for cannabis as much as I can.
Since having a brain injury, my mind does not do anything in sequential order. The best way of explaining TBI to others is to imagine your brain like an awesome computer – as always being an up to date, fast, quick, high-speed internet, a simple press of a button resets it, when it gets bogged down.
Brain injury is having too many browser tabs open all the time. Like internet pop-up windows, popping up non-stop, sometimes my mind is not always doing what I want or need. The pain is always there from my injuries. It’s at the base of my skull, behind my eyes. My balance, coordination, depth perception, along with tremor and weakness along my left arm, present daily, almost insurmountable challenges. That was until I discovered medical cannabis. Until then, it seemed pointless even getting out of bed.
Cannabis has allowed me to function and have hope, when I was in a very dark place. The side effects from all the medications I was taking made my thoughts completely irrational–and often dangerous. It was only after coming off these doctor-prescribed pills, that I found hope in life again. I am no longer in the dark place anymore. But how my brain operates now, is not the same.
What part of the world do you wake up in the morning, and what is it like where you live?
I live on the East Coast in New York State, I live on an island. It’s approximately seven miles between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, called Grand Island. Where I live 15 minutes from the Canadian Border of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pre-pandemic my life would be much different. It involved going to Canada several times in a month to visit friends and have safe access to my cannabis medicine. I have not been able to be able to go to Canada since March 2020 because of the global pandemic. This required an entirely new skill set of coping and accessing my medicine. So pre-pandemic my routine was very different.
What’s the first thing you do each day, and what do you eat and drink in the morning?
I don’t usually eat or drink anything in the morning, other than a glass of orange juice.
The dogs usually are what start my day and determine my wake-up time. The first thing I do is let them outside and open the doggy doors. Usually, this is earlier than I want to stay up and return to bed and the dogs return to my room. This is when I usually check out social media and see what is happening in cannabis, TBI, and worldly matters. Often I am following up on emails, or communications from the day before and posting content on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. This is usually a several-hour process.
I try and think about “what is in front of me right now? How can I make a difference with what I have?” I find many people in cannabis and brain-injury support groups need encouragement and kindness. I find myself always trying to brighten the days or show compassion for others. I think this mindset allows me to be more present and at the moment, allows me to focus on others rather than being reminded of my shortcomings and things I can not do.
What publications do you recommend to read in cannabis?
Publications are not my first go-to in cannabis. I struggle with reading concentration nowadays. Some I’ve found to be always informative are: Woman in Weed, Sweet Jane Magazine, Broccoli Magazine. They’re great. I use them for reference pieces. From time-to-time I purchase the current most important cannabis books. In fact, I have many favorite cannabis books from my little library, highlighted in a spreadsheet I made!
How do you work and plan your day, what’s your job?
I am a cannabis advocate for patients. I do not have a paying job, or one that compensates me. I share and present cannabis as a medicine in as many circles as I can. Each day is an new opportunity for me to introduce someone to cannabis as a medicine. I do a lot of media. I’m often asked to be on multiple podcasts and in articles like here, in Highly Capitalized, to share my journey to cannabis after my injury. Many people who have never considered cannabis as medicine hear my story as one they can identify with, and will reach out to me and ask more questions. So my job is helping others discover cannabis as medicine. I help guide them to other resources.
Do you exercise or meditate, and what do you think about when exercising, meditating?
I think exercising and meditation are so important. Since the injury, I have yet to find a way to quiet my mind in order to do this. I try and stay active by walking mostly. I enjoy long walks around my area.
What do you wear these days?
I live in comfortable clothes now all the time. I have saved dough this past year on clothes because I live in stretch pants and when masks became the new thing- I ditched the bra! For zoom calls, I am always presentable! Lol!
What’s for lunch and describe the rest of your day like up to dinner time?
Lunch is another optional food item…. I tend to graze in the afternoon on snacks- not always healthy. It’s all about convenience and what is in front of me that I can snack on. Almond M & M’s are my downfall. These are always on hand for a quick snack. I have pretty significant allergies to many food things so my diet is quite dull overall. I often forget to eat because I have a super-small appetite. I had weight loss surgery many moons ago. Brain injury is what creates the forgetting part.
After the morning catch-up, my afternoon is often filled with podcast interviews, zoom calls, collaboration calls, or fellow survivor calls. I follow up on social media and try and continue to learn about all the incredible humans in the cannabis industry. I try and show support to the authentic and genuine ones. There are so many shady companies out there I have found it critical to rely on my network. I look to them and who they support to build the best network. I try and watch and learn as much as I can daily. There is a place for me in the industry. I am really smart and knowledgeable still. It’s just my brain is not as quick as it once was!
What are some thoughts you might have about your cannabis/psychedelic job–compared to previous jobs?
My advocacy work and sharing my journey have brought me more satisfaction than even working as a nurse. I see people’s lives changed and given back to them because of cannabis. I cannot be silent when people are struggling. I am a voice for those who are afraid to ask the burning question. I learn more and more each day, in order to be able to be educated and understand cannabis as a medicine. There is not one good single source of information I have found. I gather so much information on my social media, and share the information, so others might find it helpful as well. I feel it’s my mission to change the stigma surrounding cannabis use as medicine.
What’s your evening routine like after work? What’s your commute like?
I have no commute or “after work” I am always reading, searching, and trying to learn as much as I can about cannabis.
When or even, do you consume cannabis–during the day or night?
I am a medical cannabis patient. I consume cannabis all day, in small amounts. I never get “high.” I get medicated and focused. My pain goes from a steady daily 7 on a 1-10 pain scale to a much more bearable 3 or 4. This also allows me to think of things other than the pain and focus on being more productive. I have a unique metabolism. I do not absorb fat-soluble products well. This includes THC/ CBD as they are fat-soluble. Anything that involves first -ass digestion does not work for me, unfortunately.
I must smoke my cannabis. The NY state medical program does not offer full flower cannabis. This is a huge problem for me as someone who relies on cannabis for my medicine. I want to know with what I am medicating. I’ve found specific terpenes make all the difference in the world. I discovered high THC cultivars, rich in limonene, pinene, and low in myrcene work best mitigating my symptoms during the day. At night, cultivars rich in myrcene, are what aids me falling asleep.
What’s your bedtime routine, and what are your thoughts as you drift off to sleep?
As I fall asleep at night I try and remember something positive, or someone who was kind to me in the day. I remember to thank the universe for my family, friends and my dear pets. I think about my day. I know I can’t save the world, but I can make a positive impact on at least one person or patient each day. I wish too about things like: what if the world was just kind and not critical? As I drift off to sleep, I often dream of having more of an impact. Or introducing more and more people to the healing powers of cannabis. Helping them spread the word too, to share their stories and share their journeys like I am doing. Everyone wants to be heard, and everyone wants to share their valuable experiences with cannabis.
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