Why You Should Pursue Your Passion: A Cannabis Story

Dr. Chanda Macias has faced challenge after challenge in achieving her dream of helping patients by dispensing medical marijuana through her startup, Ilera Holistic Healthcare

What keeps Macias going despite the significant setbacks she’s faced over the years? 

Macias is confident in her products’ ability to solve medical problems. Her drive for success is fueled by believing in the power of her work and her passion for healing.

Here’s how Macias identified and pursued her passion, and why you should pursue your passion, too.

Find Your Passion

Macias pursued scientific research at Howard University, studying breast cancer and prostate cancer, which poses a greater risk to Black men. She was highly motivated to use her talents to solve problems plaguing her community.

“Science was always my passion. Biomedical research was always my passion. My community was always my passion,” Macias said. “You have to identify within yourself what your passion is.” That’s what will ultimately drive your success.

With a firm foundation in their passion, entrepreneurs can shift their focus without losing momentum. “My health care background allowed me to easily pivot into the cannabis industry because I believe cannabis is medicine,” Macias said. 

Rededicate Your Faith Every Day

After years in biomedical research, Macias decided to apply for her medical dispensary license. It took two years for her to receive a response, and during that time, she began to question herself. “As entrepreneurs, I want you to know that you will have those moments of doubt,” Macias said. “I had that, too, but I had to stand firm in my conviction.” 

Macias shifted her mindset and began taking further steps to prepare for her passion.

But the challenges weren’t over. After Macias finally landed her license, the landlord where she intended to open her dispensary attempted to terminate her lease. This was a significant blow, but it didn’t shake Macias’ commitment to pursuing her passion. “We have to get back up every day and rededicate our faith in what we’re doing,” Macias said. 

And as it turns out, in the three years it took to change the landlord’s mind, the climate around medical cannabis shifted and became much safer. 

Keep Your Passion Alive

Learning and financing were among the final hurdles to Macias manifesting her passion. She found that the community was a helpful resource for solving the first challenge. “As an entrepreneur, what you really need to focus on is, who is there to help you through this process?” Macias had to use informal channels in the illicit market to learn how to run her dispensary.

Macias found further challenges getting funding, especially because Black women tend to have less access to capital. Traditional bank loans are illegal for medical dispensaries, so private equity was her only option. She ultimately chose to mortgage her home — and ended up losing it.

Although this was a humbling experience for her, Macias today is profitable and successful financially. “It was a bruise I had to take to get to that point,” she said. Macias’s unwavering dedication to her passion drove her to take big risks, which ultimately paid off.

“Every day, when I encounter the stories of how cannabis has changed someone’s life, and I have had an active hand in that,” Macias said, “that is what defines who I am.”

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