Shanel Lindsay

Former Boston attorney makes tenacious, decade-long journey to improve medical cannabis products

Before becoming an inventor and one of the authors of Massachusetts’ adult-use initiative, Shanel Lindsay was a successful attorney and a medical marijuana patient.

By making her own edibles and topicals to treat pain and inflammation caused by an ovarian cyst, she quickly discovered that “activating cannabis as an accurate medicine was almost impossible.”

Lindsay knew there had to be a better way to access the plant’s medicinal qualities, so she spent the better part of 10 years trying to find it.

“I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t know what the dose was or even if I had done it correctly,” she says. “I was basically stabbing in the dark. I was still having these frustrations about whether I was doing this the right way and then medical marijuana comes to Massachusetts and I get access to a laboratory.”

In 2013, after medical cannabis legislation passed in Massachusetts, Lindsay began conducting her own lab research, confirming her suspicions that only a limited percentage of the plant’s potential was being utilized through conventional methods. Her research became the basis of the cannabis biotech company she founded, Ardent Cannabis, and its flagship product, the Nova Decarboxylator.

The Nova is a device that removes the innate carboxyl chains in cannabis, converting inactive THCA into THC and allowing the plant’s full potential to be unlocked. It was a claim that initially drew a lot of skepticism.

“It was hard to convince people that they were doing it wrong for 20-plus years,” she says. “But the science would speak for itself.”

At first, Lindsay says Ardent had few investors beyond her mother; organic fundraising efforts built her first 100 Nova units. Forming Ardent and bringing the Nova to fruition required Lindsay to leave her career as an attorney behind.

But with Massachusetts’ recently approved adult-use initiative, her company saw tremendous growth in 2016. Ardent has now sold more than 2,500 Nova units and is looking to expand.

“This is all about increasing access to cannabis,” she says. “If this wasn’t my business, I would be doing this anyways. It’s the medicine I use.”

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