Cannabis and traumatic brain injury, with Nikki Lawley
Play • 27 min

The decades-long War on Drugs campaign in America has been incredibly successful at spreading harmful rhetoric and shaping people’s perception of cannabis use. The resulting prejudice can often discourage folks from seeking out medical cannabis as an option, and can even affect state legislature, forcing patients to overcome unnecessary and prohibitive obstacles in order to receive the treatment they need.

Today on the show we welcome Nikki Lawley, a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, and founder of NIKKI and the Plant, an advocacy group for medical marijuana use, with a special focus on helping women who have suffered a TBI. We talk with Nikki about her life-altering TBI, her previous prejudices around cannabis use, and how her journey led her to the founding of NIKKI and the Plant. After being prescribed over 60 medications and seeing dozens of healthcare professionals, Nikki finally found relief and a reason to be optimistic when she tried medical cannabis. In our conversation, Nikki shares how difficult it was transitioning from her role as a nurse, and health care provider, to being a patient. She explains how the state legislature in New York prevented her from accessing the medication she needed, as well as how difficult it was navigating the world of medical cannabis and finding a product that reliably worked for her.

We delve into Nikki’s advocacy work, her approach to addressing people’s prejudices, and why she is dedicated to changing the narrative around medical cannabis use. Nikki’s story is deeply inspirational, and we are honored to have had her on the show. It’s an imported reminder of the real-world impact that medical marijuana and advocacy can have on the lives of everyday individuals!

Key points from this episode:

  • An introduction to cannabis use for traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Some of the early evidence on the positive effects that cannabis could have for TBIs.
  • An introduction to Nikki, how she received a TBI, and her difficult journey from nurse to patient.
  • How Nikki found medical cannabis and how it transformed her recovery.
  • Nikki’s previous opinion of cannabis and how her worldview was shaped by the "War on Drugs" rhetoric.
  • Nikki’s first dispensary experience and why the initial results were so frustrating.
  • Why Nikki’s unique digestive system affects her ability to absorb fat-soluble products effectively.
  • Why this hampered the efficacy of the cannabinoid products she was using at the time.
  • How Nikki’s friends in Canada, and her support network, helped her persevere in her journey with medical cannabis.
  • The founding of NIKKI and the plant as an advocacy and awareness initiative. 
  • How their mission focuses on helping women with TBIs.
  • Why Nikki remains motivated in helping and empowering patients to institute change in the medical industry.
  • How Nikki approaches naysayers and people’s prejudice against cannabis use.
  • The Americans for Safe Access segment: the compliance, certification, and training side of ASA’s offerings to the industry.

Links mentioned in today’s episode:

NIKKI and the plant
Nikki Lawley on LinkedIn
Nikki Lawley on Instagram
Nikki Lawley on Facebook
Heather Despres on LinkedIn

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