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Insights from Scientist Dr. Chanda Macias of National Holistic Healing Center | Sugar Alternatives Announced | AZUCA Industry Updates | MJ Unpacked Recap

For more than 15 years, Dr. Chanda Macias has educated women, BIPOC entrepreneurs, and patients on the benefits of medical marijuana. Owner of the #1 dispensary in Washington D.C. and one of the most influential voices in the industry, Dr. Macias has utilized her talents through her work as a biomedical researcher to make real change and is looking to change the current scientific and business landscape to expand opportunities for people of all backgrounds.

4 Questions with Dr Chanda Macias, CEO and Owner of National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC)

During your career, you have devoted your time, talents, and expertise to advancing the careers of women and people of color while improving the quality of life for patients suffering from various ailments. What have been some of the most encouraging signs pointing towards progress in patients’ rights? What work still needs to be done?

This question and its answer illustrate the paradox and biggest challenge still in cannabis. Americans are overwhelmingly in support of medical cannabis, and the majority of US states now have some kind of legal cannabis program. So there have been major strides within those states to make medical cannabis more accessible to their patients. 

For example here in Louisiana, in 2020, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law ACT No 286, allowing any state-licensed physician to recommend medical marijuana to any of their patients to find relief for any condition. Louisiana patients made it clear they wanted full access to medical cannabis and the right to discuss alternative healthcare options with their doctors. And since then, the options for cannabis delivery methods we were able to offer expanded from tinctures or topicals only, to include metered-dose vapes, edibles, and finally launching full flower in the beginning of 2021. That’s progress.

But on the other hand, this is state by state, and federal prohibition of any kind of legal cannabis is still the industry’s biggest obstacle. Prohibition puts cannabis outside the reach of insurance coverage, which is always a huge hurdle for patients. Until patients can access our national infrastructure like health insurance they won’t be able to embrace and benefit from the full use of this plant medicine. 

Education and long held misconceptions about the plant are often cited as two key hurdles in legalization. As more states are accepting the reality of legal cannabis, what must be done, whether by industry leaders, dispensaries or lawmakers, to make sure that accurate and pertinent information is available for prospective consumers?

Until federal prohibition is ended, the most effective way to do that on the state level is for every state to have a legal cannabis market! Legal cannabis can be regulated and subject to oversight. That’s a powerful tool to be able to provide the most safe and consistent medicine. I want to make cannabis available to all patients, while at the same time keeping inferior or unreliable products off the illicit market.  

How has your background in science shaped the way you view cannabis as medicine? How do you determine which type of products, formulations, ingestion methods, etc. will be most effective for each unique individual?

My scientific background and biomedical research has absolutely shaped how I view cannabis as medicine. I have a PhD in Cellular Biology from Howard University, and have extensively studied different types of cancer including breast cancer and colon cancer. I developed a model to understand the mechanism in which prostate cancer metastasizes to bone.  It was during all this work that I encountered patients and the life changing impact that cannabis had on them. 

Like all medications, finding the ideal one for each patient and their symptoms involves an element of trial and error, but there are some basics that can help determine the best place to start. First, what condition is the patient trying to treat? Some conditions, for example, have been shown to be responsive to higher amounts of CBD, and less THC, so that’s where formulations matter. Second, the condition of the patient is an important consideration in determining the best delivery methods. In other words, you wouldn’t want to give an edible to someone who has trouble swallowing. There’s also the issue of bio-availability. In general, products like tinctures, vapes and flower are more immediately bio-available, whereas other products like edibles often have a more gradual onset and longer duration. In any case, I always suggest titration – start off with the lowest dosage and gradually increase until the desired relief is achieved. 

MJBizDaily recently reported that the percentage of executive positions held by women and people of color in the U.S. cannabis industry fell between 2019 and 2021. What must be done to ensure that these groups’ voices are heard and represented as the industry expands in the coming years?

The cannabis industry hasn’t been immune to the power imbalance of gender and race that is in every industry, but I’m glad to see real effort being made on an institutional level and within the industry itself. I am proud to serve as Chairwoman of the Board of Managers and CEO for Women Grow, the global leader in connecting, educating, inspiring, and empowering the next generation of women leaders in the cannabis and hemp industry. And as CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare in Louisiana, I am partnered with Southern University, which made history by becoming the first HBCU in the country to launch a hemp-based CBD, and followed by a cannabis-based THC product. We must continue to make it a priority to expand the educational and leadership pipeline for women and people of color in both the science and business of cannabis. 

Chanda Macias, PhD, MBA is the CEO and the owner of National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC), the leading medical marijuana dispensary in Washington DC. Dr. Macias has spent 15+ years developing knowledge of medical marijuana impact on patients. Dr. Macias educates women and minority entrepreneurs and patients through her outreach platform as the Chairwoman of the Board of Managers and acting CEO for Women Grow with a national educational reach impacting over 50,000+ people and patients. Dr. Macias is a proud member of Americans for Safe Access, promoting safe and legal access to medical marijuana for research purposes. In her local market, she serves as the Treasurer and Secretary of DC Medical Cannabis Trade Association that proactively engages in legislation, regulations, and compliance with the Department of Health. Dr. Macias serves on the Advisory Board of Southern University, a state-funded university, which was granted a license to cultivate medical cannabis in Louisiana.  She and her partners at Ilera Healthcare will launch the second cultivation facility in the state, becoming the President of Ilera Holistic Healthcare.  Finally, Dr. Macias serves on the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association focusing on the growth of the industry in existing and emerging markets.

Azuca Partner Spotlight

New from AZUCA – Sugar Alternatives

We are proud to announce that we will be offering new innovations for edibles manufacturers seeking fast-acting infusion formulas: Sugar Alternatives.

“As an infusion partner, AZUCA empowers manufacturers with chef-ready, infused ingredients that seamlessly integrate into production processes for fast-onset products,” said Kim Sanchez Rael, President & CEO, Azuca. “We are excited to introduce our newest ingredients, designed for health conscious, sugar-free products. This strong roster of sugar alternatives offers the TiME INFUSION™ benefits that consumers have come to rely on and love—fast-onset, social Delta-9-THC effects, and of course, great taste. These carrier ingredient options are designed to spark endless culinary creativity. We look forward to bringing more forward-thinking solutions to cannabis edibles producers, and we have more innovative solutions in our development pipeline for release later this year!”

Click here to learn more.

AZUCA at MJ Unpacked

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth at MJ Unpacked in NYC this month — we had a blast sharing the latest innovations from Azuca with members of the cannabis community and meeting you all!

Cannabis Edibles – Ron Silver

Azuca is dedicated to removing the uncertainty of edibles and encapsulating individual cannabinoid molecules so they can be absorbed by the body and act fast in anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Azuca founder and chief creative officer Ron Silver recently sat down with Gothamist to discuss this, as well as exciting new upcoming initiatives including strain-specific edibles with Wana Brands.

Click here for the full article!

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