6 Black Cannabis Doctors & Scientists You Should Know


Table of contents

  1. Dr. Karyemaître Aliffe
  2. Chanda Macias, PhD
  3. Dr. Janice Vaughn-Knox
  4. Dr. Rasean Hodge
  5. Dr. Ayana Jordan
  6. Dr. Emmanuel Onaivi

The world of cannabis medicine is filled with inspirational, motivational, and educational stories. It’s only been in recent decades, though, that doctors have begun to clearly understand the science behind medical marijuana and its healing potential.

This Black History Month, Leafwell is highlighting six doctors of color who have been integral in shaping our current understanding of the cannabis plant, cannabinoids, and their numerous uses in medicine.

Dr. Karyemaître Aliffe

Harvard-educated Dr. Karyemaître Aliffe is Chief Scientific Advisor at Leafwell and brings more than two decades of medical research experience to his role. Dr. Aliffe received his medical degree from the distinguished Stanford University of Medicine after completing his undergraduate studies in organic chemistry at Harvard University. He specializes in the molecular physiology of the endocannabinoid system, which he calls “our most vital smart device.”

Dr. Aliffe discusses his greater mission:

“Beyond cannabis, I seek to share the beauty of Nature and the insights of science in a manner that is accessible, yet thought-provoking; that enhances life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.”

Based in Seattle, Washington, the multilingual Dr. Aliffe blends his expertise in cannabis and medicine with the power of data science. He shares that his multifaceted work has the ultimate goal of providing “actionable evidence to advance global human health.”

Karyemaitre Aliffe MD

Dr. Chanda Macias

Chanda Macias, PhD

Owner of the National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC) in Washington D.C. and chairwoman of the Board of Managers and acting CEO for Women Grow, Dr. Chanda Macias, MBA is one of the most influential women in cannabis and hemp – a space in which she’s been working for over 15 years. Her passion for educating, bettering lives and empowering women and minorities is evident in her extensive work in the cannabis sphere.

Along with NHHC (a Leafwell partner) and Women Grow, Dr. Macias is also a member of Americans for Safe Access, serves as Treasurer and Secretary of the D.C. Medical Cannabis Trade Association, and serves on the Advisory Board of Southern University and the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

Dr. Macias has many talents, including working directly with cannabis and developing whole plant medications as CEO at Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a Louisiana company providing patients with high quality tinctures.

Dr. Janice Vaughn-Knox

Dr. Janice Vaughn-Knox is a board-certified anesthesiologist, best-selling author and cannabis and cannabinoid expert. Certified by the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine as a Cannabinoid Medicine Specialist, Dr. Vaughn-Knox believes that cannabinoid therapy starts with understanding the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system.

A University of California at Berkeley graduate, Dr. Vaughn-Knox attended medical school at the University of Washington in Seattle and later founded The American Cannabinoid Clinics and ADVENT Academy. These days she is a sought-after speaker on cannabis therapeutics both in the United States and abroad. Dr. Vaughn-Knox has served as the Oregon representative to Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) and holds advisory board positions with PRA Global Inc, and Initiative, Inc.

The Knox Family (Dr Janice Knox bottom right)
The Knox Family (Dr Janice Knox bottom right)

Dr. Rasean Hodge in a green Leafwell's branding

Dr. Rasean Hodge

Dr. Rasean T. Hodge owns a practice called Premiere Chronic Pain Care located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Hodge worked in hospice care, family medicine and even specialized in chronic pain, but it wasn’t until he broke his neck and became a patient himself that he really started to consider the potential of medical cannabis.

After enduring several surgeries and finding that prescription medications minimally helped the pain while triggering numerous side effects, he decided it was time for an alternative. Dr. Hodge conducted his own research based on studies out of California, Israel and New Zealand, and ultimately concluded that medical cannabis was the best course of treatment. He then completed the process of certification by the Medical Board of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Public Health to help other people benefit from medical cannabis.

Dr. Ayana Jordan in a gradient Leafwell's baclground

Dr. Ayana Jordan

As Associate Director of Psychiatry Residency Program and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Ayana Jordan specializes in mental health and substance abuse. Along with teaching at Yale, Dr. Jordan is an attending physician at the Connecticut Mental Health Center and was featured in the HBO “I May Destroy You” recovery and wellness campaign in 2020.

Women’s Health Research at Yale (WHRY) recently announced funding to investigate how CBD affects the brain, and whether the cannabinoid impacts men and women differently. Dr. Jordan is working with Dr. Lichenstein and Dr. Sarah Yip in conducting this randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study to determine neurological and subjective responses to CBD.

Dr. Emmanuel Onaivi

Dr. Emmanuel Onaivi

A Professor in the Department of Biology at William Paterson University (WPU) in New Jersey, Dr. Emmanuel Onaivi has been a Guest Scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has authored or co-authored several papers and edited three books on cannabis, including TheBiology of Marijuana; Endocannabinoids: The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond; and Marijuana and Cannabinoid Research Methods and Protocols.

The Fulbright Scholar has conducted pioneering research on cannabis and the behavioral effects associated with CB2 receptors in the Endocannabinoid System and the human body. In fact, Dr. Onaivi’s previous research led to the discovery of the CB2 receptors in the brain. Professor Onaivi was the recipient of a major three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to continue the study.

These accomplished individuals are just six among countless cannabis medical experts to recognize. Join us in celebrating their achievements this Black History Month and beyond.

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