Connecting the Dots with Nikki Lawley: sharing your cannabis story

nikki lawley cannabis story

For many people, the only way to understand the powers of plant medicine is through hearing about it from others. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing of all. This is why I continue to speak out about my own success with cannabis—I know that people can learn from me and even change how they feel about the plant.

I started sharing my story in early 2018. The first time I shared was for the Ontario Brain Injury Association. A researcher was looking for someone who had used cannabis in successfully treating their symptoms of TBI. At that time, I didn’t understand how vital the storytelling aspect was—and how it could transform lives and give others hope.

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When I started sharing my story, it was in Canada because that’s where I learned about cannabis as medicine. Canada was far more advanced than the US in my experience, and I was able to learn from advocates, companies, researchers, and others about the power of plant medicine. So many people have vast knowledge and experience in using cannabis as medicine.

Finding my voice was scary initially because of the laws in the US and Schedule One and all the resistance I faced in the state of New York for using cannabis. It was a frightening time because I was under Worker’s Compensation, and they were not exactly pro-cannabis. However, they ended up paying for my medical cannabis after many failed attempts with various pharmaceuticals. I’m so glad I didn’t stop speaking out.

Patients can make a difference in the lives of other patients, but more importantly, sharing our stories in the mainstream media is critically important because people aren’t aware of all the benefits of cannabis medicine. The war on drugs and the prohibition era have caused so much stigma and resistance that hearing patient stories can really be the game changer for how people perceive the plant. 

Many people have reached out to me after finding me online, searching for “cannabis and TBI.” They were struggling to find answers, and after seeing my success, wondered if the plant could help them, too. These moments inspire me to keep going, even in the face of roadblocks.

Roadblocks to storytelling exist

I understand that speaking out can be challenging. Many people still live in places where cannabis is illegal or are nervous about the  possible consequences, especially parents. It’s fair to have these fears—I know I did. Even though New York is legal now, I still run into roadblocks for sure.

Social media censorship could be the death of me. Meta, specifically, is very unfriendly to cannabis creators. It is literally the most frustrating aspect of being an advocate—the censorship, the inability to get in touch with the people in charge. People get kicked off Facebook and Instagram all the time for cannabis posts or have their content reach limited.

AI and the bots are in control of your complete content and messaging. It is incredibly exhausting. My advice? Never use the word cannabis in any of your hashtags or put pictures of the plant up. Even spelling out the word can lead to the removal of your posts or even a total ban. 

Despite this, I still encourage everyone to share their journeys—you just have to be a little creative on certain social media platforms. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and families, as they’re a great place to start. Consider sending letters to legislators—your testimony can have an incredible impact. Work with niche and mainstream media, you’d be surprised how many want to hear from you. 

Our stories matter as patients—our experiences can change the lives, hearts, and minds of so many people. Above all else, remember: your story matters.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content. Always consult a healthcare professional before beginning a medical cannabis regimen.

nikki lawley

Nikki Lawley is a patient advocate, speaker, and founder of Nikki and the Plant. She personally discovered cannabis as medicine after suffering a life-changing injury while working as a pediatric nurse. Nikki resides in Buffalo, NY.