In Conversation with Shanel Lindsay
EVERY THURSDAY AT 8PM ET, HEAD OVER TO THE AFROPUNK IG LIVE CHANNEL FOR THESE WEEKLY CONVERSATIONS CURATED BY HUMBLE BLOOM'S SOLONJE BURNETT WITH THOUGHT LEADERS AND ENTREPRENEURS IN MUSIC, AGRICULTURE, BEAUTY, MINDFULNESS, NUTRITION, SUSTAINABILITY, SEXUAL EMPOWERMENT AND MORE.
Shanel Lindsay is the founder and CEO of Boston-based company, Ardent Life, Inc. Before launching Ardent aka "The Easy-Bake Oven for Cannabis” in 2013, Shanel was a medical marijuana patient suffering from chronic pain and inflammation caused by an ovarian cyst she developed after having her son. Shanel worked with scientists at MCR Labs on pioneering research into #decarboxylation and then invented the NOVA Decarboxylator & Infuser. Additionally she is author of the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative (aka Question 4), and appointed by the treasurer twice to the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board.
What's your current theme song? If you have a reason, please share.
Since it’s summer, the theme is island vibes. I’ve been listening to Koffee’s “Rapture” and “Lockdown” songs.
What are you working on?
We fast-tracked our FX launch right before 4/20 for patients and consumers to use at home during the pandemic, and now we’re focusing on constructing a production and distribution facility. We’ve taken over a new space and are excited about the next phase of expansion that will allow us to get more of our kits onto the market and branch into new verticals, including our wellness and beauty lines.
Tell me about your journey to now. What impactful moments led you to your work?
I was using cannabis to help manage chronic pain and inflammation caused by an ovarian cyst that I developed after having my son. I found it almost impossible to make an accurate medicine and was regularly eating ingredients, like butter, that I didn’t necessarily want to consume. Instead of relying on pharmaceuticals, I wanted to lean on the plant’s natural benefits but was frustrated that achieving proper dosage was such a difficult process. This determined me to want to find a solution for not only myself, but for other women and patients suffering. I worked with scientists at MCR Labs on pioneering research into decarboxylation and together, we invented Ardent’s flagship product, NOVA Decarboxylator & Infuser.
In addition to my genuine admiration for the plant, a pivotal moment that inspired my activism was when I was arrested for possession in 2010, after marijuana was decriminalized in Massachusetts. It was a situation that put everything I had worked for, including my career as an attorney, at risk and was a wakeup call for me that legalization without a clear equity focus and intent to remove racial disparities was not going to happen without real, focused effort. We see that today as we still fight for equity in every aspect of the industry.
Who and/or what motivates your passion each day?
I focus on the vision of “what can be”. I’m motivated by the incredible people in my life - my family, team and community - and grateful for the continued support we receive as we continue to develop innovative technology to bring the power of cannabis to the individual. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what benefits cannabinoid therapy can bring to every segment of our society. It touches on so many things - medicine, wellness and preventative care, fun - and the vast majority of people have not even had the opportunity to interact with and make cannabis products. But we know how much tailored cannabis therapy could improve their lives if they had that ability and knowledge. The drive to bring that to people is what keeps me moving forward.
How do you define Radical Self Care?
My definition is “soul-to-skin care”. It’s essential to understand what would truly make you happy and properly prepare your mind and body in order to successfully get there.
What rituals do you have to help maintain homeostasis of mind, body, and spirit?
I use cannabis in many forms from making edibles with healthy ingredients like added chia seed, flax, and prebiotics so I can add a bit of healthy even when I am indulging in something sweet. To help manage neck pain and get my mind right, I love to pair medicated oil massages and heat compresses for my body with introspection to music as a 360 degree kind of relaxation therapy.
How do you incorporate plants into your well being routine? How is the cannabis (THC, CBD, CBN, etc) a part of your plant ritual?
Cannabinoids are integrated throughout my wellness routine. I use THC to help with inspiration and healing, while CBD keeps me balanced and CBG assists as a preventative. I use CBN as a by-product when consuming THC, so if I have trouble sleeping, decarbing flower and then smoking gives a strong dose of CBN that eliminates any insomnia.
Who would you like to experience an altered state (dream elevation + discussion) with and how would you achieve this flow state?
Definitely my team - the people closest to me who are grinding every day to help build and achieve this dream. And being in nature, especially around water, has been the environment that has been successful in the past to get us onto that next plane.
Love the phrase "slow down to speed up", what does that mean to you personally and within the present global pause?
A spot on example would be how COVID-19 shut down our kitchen, which forced us to slow down and hit pause on proposed plans. Ultimately, there were benefits that came from this, allowing us to adjust, focus on what was happening now, and plan for upcoming opportunities.
What is the gift you bring to community?
My gifts are innovation, drive, and fierce love. I’m on a mission to elevate the plant.
What has been the most challenging for you during this time?
It's been hard to navigate the changes and coordinate a remote team throughout the pandemic as well as just staying focused, inspired and innovative during a very challenging time.
What made you become an advocate in the space and for the plant?
I use the plant for my own benefit and wanted to see people use it without fear, and there is still so much fear and stigma around the plant. I’ve leveraged both my legal background and personal experience to help be a voice as an activist and a business owner. It’s been an intense journey and it's far from over but I have found immense joy in being part of the movement and fighting for equity in the industry.