Dr. Vanessa Niles was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up with five brothers and sisters.
During 6th grade, Dr. Niles’ teacher at the time asked her mother if she could take a language course in preparation for high school. She would ride a train and a bus to get to school. Eventually, she did manage to learn German and got accepted into Erasmus Hall High School, where her education progressed in her younger years. Her mother passed away early from cancer during her residency. However, that did not deter her from pursuing an education in medicine.
She went to the University of Tennessee and got her nursing degree. Deep down, Dr. Niles always knew she wanted to be a doctor since she already got her prerequisites for medical school.
After she finished her residency in New York, she moved to South Carolina. Eventually, she specialized as a physician in gynecology and obstetrics. She helped deliver thousands of babies in a community health center for ten years.
Leafy Greens Story
She soon opened her private practice in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She and her business partner knew each other for years during the time spent in medical school and from their involvement in the community health center. Dr. Niles asked her to help out with her private practice, and she gladly accepted. At this point in her life, Dr. Niles has four kids. Her husband, who is a lawyer, was very supportive in her decisions along her journey.
Cannaplayground: How many babies do you think you have delivered?
Dr. Niles: “My god, in the last 30 years? Probably over 20,000 babies. You know, it’s a wonderful feeling, it really is very joyful. You really get a better sense of spirituality. By that I mean you start to really know it’s not just about you. My work is one of love. I put so much hard work into doing all that, it was my passion. I kept my eyes open.”
Cannaplayground: What are some other things that make you proud?
“I’m really proud of my children, one of my children was adopted from Ethiopia. I am proud of all of them. They are all older now in their 20’s and above. I worked all the time, they all chose their own path and found their own calling in life. I was one of those mothers who took no nonsense from their children. I’m just really proud of them.”
Cannaplayground: Dr. Niles, you were appointed by Gorge W. Bush to be the International Medical Ambassador can you explain what that means?
“A International Medical Amabassasor fosters work between American physicians and physicians for that country. We set up standards in that area. We share information and policy. I have been all over the world. I’ve been to Egypt, Haiti for a medical mission work during the earthquake — oh my gosh — Brazil. I’m really proud of that too.”
Cannaplayground: Did George W. Bush smoke cannabis? I’m just kidding don’t answer that (We had a nice chuckle). Are there any experience’s that stand out the most when you spent your time overseas?
“One of my favorite countries I went to was Liberia. There, I worked at a hospital taking care of woman who had cancer or tumors. We did surgeries on pregnant women who had trouble delivering babies. Since they lived in the bush, it was harder for them to get the care that they needed. Sometimes they had to deliver babies that were just too big, and the mother would suffer tearing in the vaginal and rectal tissue. It’s called a fistula. That was heartbreaking to see that those women don’t get the proper care. So we went there and we did surgeries to help them recover. When I saw them get their function back that was an empowering experience — using the skills that God has given you to help others.”
Cannaplayground: You have so many skills and experiences that you can share with other people. Dr. Niles, are there any awards that you have received that stand out to you the most?
“As I got older I’ve won so many awards. In my 30s I received a bunch and some of them I don’t even have anymore. It’s not important to me anymore, if that makes any sense. I can tell you right now, I won an award from the government of South Carolina, and I would have to look at a resume to even find out what it was even for!”
The fight against cancer
Cannaplayground: During Dr. Niles 30s, she still maintained a private practice in South Carolina. Around 2004 she found out her business partner had stage four breast cancer. The doctors performed surgery, chemo, and radiation therapy. She always had nausea and was in incredible pain. Her business partner decided to transition at home and stopped working. Having cancer was a significant turning point in her life because her best friend was in pain.
“That’s when my mind started to open up. Nothing was working for her at that point. So that’s when we decided to use some cannabis.
We heard some physicians were using cannabis in California to treat some similar symptoms. We knew nothing about how it could help her. As soon as we got her to try it, oh my gosh, she just became alive again. It really impacted her symptoms. I started doing some research on my own, and that’s when I realized I knew nothing. No one ever taught me anything on the matter either, other than ‘just don’t do it.’ It was that simple. She passed away in 2011 on her own terms.”
Cannaplayground: At this point in her life, after her best friend passed away, she kept doing research and asked her husband to move to California. Even in their late 50s and 60s, she knew deep down in her heart; she wanted to start her practice in medical marijuana. Our conversation continued, and she mentioned:
“People have a misunderstanding of what cancer really is. It’s not something you just cut out, it’s a pandemic. It’s something that comes from the mind, what’s in your brain. Not physically but mentally… your thoughts on a constant basis. It’s your diet, it’s your mindset, it’s a lot more complicated than that. As a doctor, you don’t learn that food is your medicine. That’s when I realized , before pharmaceuticals ,we would listen to our grandparents about natural remedies. We would listen to our elders. We would know about different leaves, trees, earth, fruits, vegetables, and what they could do.”
Cannaplayground: She continued
“It became clear to me that a big portion of medical education was left out. Instead of teaching people how to fish so they can eat, the pharmaceutical companies just want to give you a pill or a substitute to natural health as opposed to teaching them the real health of their bodies. God designed our bodies to listen to the natural world around them. We still need pharmaceuticals at times, but there are natural remedies, and I believe we as a society have pushed all that information under a rug.”
Cannaplayground: After speaking to her for some time, I realized so many things. You cannot base your health on one thing, or how you eat. The actions you take and how you live determine your health.
Your health all comes together as one, spiritually, mentally, and physically. There is a balance in everything, and I even started to question my own mortality. Am I not living right?.
The research says it all
Cannaplayground: What are some of the medical marijuana research you have done on your own?
“We did some research on women who had endometriosis. That’s when menstrual blood backs up by the fallopian tube and builds plaque. Sometimes it’s found on the pelvis as well. It’s extremely painful and most of the women were taking some sort of painkillers. Most of the women who used cannabis said it curved their pain by 70%. They ate 10mg of an edible twice a day and back to once a day.”
“A survey is conducted for people with anxiety. We gave them 10mg of an edible Sativa dominant during the day time. We also used a tincture that was one part CBD and one part THC. After the survey was taken, it was found that 80% of our patients’ anxiety improved.”
Cannaplayground: I read that for CBD to work you need a little bit of THC to activate in the nervous system it, can you give us some insight?
“It’s called an ‘entourage effect.’ plucking CBD out of everything and putting into just one thing. I’m a little skeptical about that, I’ll tell you that right now.”
Cannaplayground: Why is that?
“It’s the entire plant that works together. It’s the entourage effect, it’s not just one thing. You can’t just isolate one. The entire plant has over 100 different cannabinoids along with terpenes and the terpenes are just as important. There is more to the plant than just two molecules (THC, CBD) and there needs to be more research.”
Cannaplayground: Are there any strains that you think work best for specific symptoms?
“Some patients who have PTSD or anxiety tend to stick to Sativas; however, I believe it’s a mixture of the two compounds (THC, CBD) and others. Each patient may need to smoke it or ingest it through an edible. It really falls on the patient and their needs independently. What do you take?”
Cannaplayground: Caught off guard a little, I explained to Dr. Niles:
Cannaplayground: “I rarely smoke cannabis. If I do, I tend to smoke later at night when I’m about to go to bed. However, after working with Veterans Affairs for over three years, I explained that the biggest thing that I learned about mental health, especially among veterans, is sleep. If you can’t get a good night’s rest, you are bound to run into more serious problems later in the day and life. Your mental state can correlate into your physical problems.”
“I agree with you!”
Cannaplayground: “I tend to lean towards a very low THC Indica, a hybrid if I’m lucky. The key to my dosage is the lower amount of THC because I do not want to get ‘high’ per se. I want to be mentally sound and be able to talk in social settings, allowing my body and my mind to relax without feeling drowsy, keeping my production up during the day.
I see some adverse side effects; however, that’s because getting my dosage right is particularly hard. Especially in my case.”
I am the one being interviewed at this point. To summarize, I explained the changing marijuana laws in Illinois. I talked about the black market and how everything is coming from out of state, typically from Colorado, California, and Michigan as well.
“After you come to California and experience how easy it is to get it, it’s hard to imagine California ever going back. Wait, where are we with this interview?”
Cannaplayground: Yeah! Where are we? Where am I? Are there any adverse side effects of CBD or THC?
“One of the biggest negative effects — and I’m gonna watch my words here — before things were more regulated, you were able to go to the dispensary and buy a 1000mg edible. You’ll stay high for a couple of days. Common sense is hard to come by, and with all things moderation is key. Each person’s body is different.”
Cannaplayground: What is the society of cannabis physicians?
“It’s an organization where anybody who’s a nurse or a doctor gives help or information regarding medical marijuana.”
Cannaplayground: Do you think marijuana will ever become federally legal?
“I think the way things are changing all over the United States, I think it will. You have to put that energy out there.”
Weed and the Law?
Cannaplayground: How do you feel about decriminalization?
“The entire state is dealing with that now. Questions are being asked about people who are incarcerated now. How can we make it right and fair? Is it through expungement? The whole state is looking at that. Yes, it should be decriminalized and yes, cannabis should be totally legal.”
Cannaplayground: Do you smoke on your own medically or recreationally?
“I take a tincture to help with my migraines.”
Cannaplayground: When you started your practice, you also started the Leafy Green Agency. Can you explain to the public what you guys do?
“Leafy Green is an educational company. We educate patients and clients on cannabis from history, regulation, and medical use. We even show them the entrepreneurship side of the industry, including the cultivation, branding, marketing, and how to obtain licenses. Make sure you take a quote out of our mission statement for that one, Bogs!”
https://leafygreenagency.com/about-us/ for a direct link
Cannaplayground: There are so many moving parts with Leafy Green Agency, and you guys do seminars all over the country.
“I feel so good talking to you, especially someone from another state who is going through similar experiences with legalization in your own state. Once I learned about cannabis, Bogs, I felt strongly to put that knowledge out there. I learned so much from patients here. One of the happiest and best things I have ever done was move to California to learn about cannabis and open up a practice here to help patients. Bogs, people don’t move to California in their late 50s and 60s! They move out of California. My friends thought we lost our minds!”
Cannaplayground: I believe this might be a perfect time to ask you is there anyone you would like to thank on your journey?
“Just my husband, Duane Sevillian. That’s it! Oh, and Keisha Peden, our Executive Director. Don’t forget to put her name down!
Cannaplayground: I won’t! Wait how did you and Keisha meet?
“I don’t know Bogs! I’ve known her for many years, you ask her!”
Cannaplayground: Okay, I will! Is there anything you would like to say to the public?
After a long pause, she stated:
“All is well no matter what the reality presents.”
Cannaplayground: –Dr. Niles, I was so excited and honored to have an opportunity to talk to you. The research and accomplishments that you have completed in your life are so impressive. You have helped so many people in your lifetime. Our conversation has filled me with joy and inspiration. I believe your journey isn’t quite over yet, and there are things that you will do in your life that will be unmatched. You will move mountains.
On behalf of Cannaplayground.com,
To know one’s sense of purpose in life is incredibly essential. From what she told me it might be the key to the meaning of life, for a greater good and purpose.