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Ardent CEO Shanel Lindsay eyes equal cannabis opportunity


“I want artists to continue to grow and then I also want to [collaborate] with other entrepreneurs, other people of color, other communities to see how we create these businesses and then pour positivity and money back into our communities,” says Shanel Lindsay, attorney and CEO/Founder of Ardent Life Inc.

“I’m really excited to do that within the cannabis space.”

Ardent is a Boston-based biotech cannabis company that produces laboratory-grade precision equipment such as the NOVA™, a decarboxylator and infuser for those who consume cannabis. The latest Ardent device is Ardent FX, essentially an easy bake oven for cannabis.

Unequal opportunity in the cannabis sector

An innovator, a scientific experimenter, and a well-respected attorney, Lindsay is ingrained in the fabric of the cannabis community in Massachusetts.

And as an African-American woman, she also understands the limitations present for people of color in the industry and wants to help change the stigma, and unfairness in opportunity around marijuana in America.

“It’s actually continuing to victimize people of color, through not giving people opportunities, creating a legal pathway versus an illegal pathway.”

She continued, “That’s still the majority of people of color on that illegal segment. I feel like I have like a huge obligation to use my platform to try to bring light to that fact.”

NOVA Cannabis

In a country and time where so many (mainly white) people profit from the emerging cannabis industry, how is it fair that “criminals” who are locked up due to marijuana charges are still incarcerated?

It is not fair. And it speaks to the arbitrary nature of laws in the country, specifically surrounding cannabis use. And though it should not be a requirement of someone like Lindsay to help solve the issue, she undeniably feels a certain obligation.

“I don’t want to be proud of accomplishing [what I have] because I’m a Black woman, right? I want this to be the norm, that this is what’s happening, that we’re given opportunities and that that this industry is finally one that actually has some social responsibility ingrained into it.” 

For Lindsay, it is not about being proud of breaking the mold within a system of unequal opportunity. It’s not a pleasure to become successful amidst the racist systems that permeate throughout the legislation and corporate world of America.

It is a constant weight on her, a reminder that while she has become successful in an industry designed to help white people, most people of color are not able to do so.

“It is something that I hold the obligation and responsibility [of], but also something that hurts me in many respects.”

Lindsay continued to explain, “There should be many more and there’s a weight that comes with that… Seeing yourself be successful and see[ing] so many other people that should be successful, that are still struggling. That doesn’t feel good.”

Entrance into the world of cannabis and Ardent

Boston bred, aside from four years spent in Philadelphia for college, Lindsay has been in and around the Cradle of Modern America her whole life. She first tried cannabis in high school with friends, when she was dealing with a personal medical issue.

“Not only did it make me feel better, but it actually like took some of my pain away,” recalls Lindsay. 

But it wasn’t until after Lindsay became an attorney that she realized she could have a career in the cannabis world. Over ten years ago, Shanel began to use cannabis medically to treat pain and inflammation caused by an ovarian cyst.

She began using scientific processes to prepare cannabis for medicinal use. When Massachusetts passed its medical cannabis law in 2012, Shanel used her knowledge and passion for the plant to perfect the decarboxylation process, and Ardent was born.

Soon after, Ardent produced the NOVA, the first cannabis medical device to allow patients to achieve pharmaceutical-grade dosing using the cannabis plant.

Lindsay explained to me that when people heard she was an attorney, they would automatically assume that she didn’t use cannabis. Their surprise was extensive, their doubts immense.

But explaining to people around her the benefits of cannabis, especially when the scientific process yields the desired medicinal results, Shanel found that she had an ability to deter people from their preconceptions about the plant.

Still, the stigma surrounding cannabis use and the need to change people’s notions about the plant is a troubling act.

“Unfortunately, there’s just this huge stigma that still surrounds cannabis that is so unfair and infuriating.”

Shanel’s legal efforts

In 2017, Shanel was appointed by the State Treasurer to the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board and having been reinstated, she still provides recommendations to Massachusetts marijuana regulators. 

“It’s great to be a part and have a voice when it comes to shaping the policy in Massachusetts,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay’s designated seat/role is to provide legal services to marijuana businesses, using her expertise. “I sit in the legal seat on the advisory board, but really I use my voice there to fight for equity.”

Shanel’s focus is to make sure there’s more inclusion in the policies existing and created.

“There’s also a real fight to what we’re doing, not just sticking to the status quo, but proposing things that would really move the needle for people of color.”

One of her main focuses now is EON (Equitable Opportunities Now), a non-profit that fights to preserve the equity provisions in Massachusetts cannabis laws. It is about creating equal opportunities for businesses and people looking to receive licenses for their cannabis companies/projects.

“Trying to support those businesses that are opening up in Massachusetts that are certified or have an equity tilt to them. And trying to make that a real part of the fabric of the cannabis community here in Massachusetts,” Shanel explains when discussing her legal goals. 

Looking ahead

“I definitely want to continue to grow my business so that it can be used as an example, and that I can use the things I’ve learned to help other people.”

Lindsay continued. “Especially when it comes to e-commerce and digital businesses and developing products in the cannabis space.” 

With the pandemic going on, and the evolution of the internet and e-commerce, most of Lindsay’s focus is on the digital world. “The ability to build a strong brand through the internet is greater than ever, but there’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” Lindsay explains.

Lindsay’s largest focus? “Connecting to the business, entrepreneurial, and social responsibility world[s] outside of cannabis. And continuing to remove that stigma around our industry while being part of the [the] bigger, greater mission to improve the world.

“And specifically improve the situation for black and brown people.”

Ardent. is an innovative and forward-thinking cannabis company designed to help people cure their ailments in the most efficient ways possible. Shanel Lindsay’s work in the scientific, medicinal, and legal realms has helped so many people, and her work has only just begun.

Cannabis is a plant that has existed for millennia and will continue to persist. To make the cannabis industry equitable and righteous is a first step to ensuring equality for all peoples, and removing the stigma around the plant.

Lindsay doesn’t just profit from her incredible inventions. She helps put those inventions to use on people that need it most. She doesn’t just desire for cannabis and the profit of the plant to be available for all peoples; she makes it happen in the legal sphere.

Shanel Lindsey: innovative entrepreneur, social justice warrior, legal expert in the world of cannabis. Remember her name.