April Becker Macchio and her team are bringing cannabis to Upstate New York in the most relaxing way. As the founder and creative director of UNIFY Retreat, a plant medicine motel scheduled to open in the town of Cochecton, Becker Macchio is excited to offer an elevated experience that normalizes cannabis consumption. 

What Is April Becker Macchio's Mission With UNIFY Retreat Motel?

She’s inspired by the fact that UNIFY’s site is steps away from where the historic 1969 Woodstock music festival took place.

“Cannabis and psychedelics played a pivotal role in fostering unity and connection among [Woodstock’s] attendees,” Becker Macchio says. “We believe that UNIFY Retreat Motel can carry forward this spirit, honor this history, and continue the dialogue around responsible cannabis usage. Among our objectives is to champion and support New York-raised brands, with a particular emphasis on those led by marginalized communities, women, veterans, and those who have paid this price via our justice system. We strive to create a distinctive and unforgettable experience for our guests while promoting unity, harmony, and a safe space for all cannabis and earth medicine enthusiasts. We plan to open our doors as soon as we've successfully completed our final outdoor construction projects, which were delayed by this summer's rain, including the completion of the new parking lot. We'll open once we have obtained the final clearance required from the local and state regulatory departments.”

April Becker Macchio (center) and the UNIFY Retreat Motel team: Her husband Michael Macchio (right), and partners Monika and Sam (C) UNIFY Retreat Motel

Buy Cannabis From Moms: April Becker Macchio's Origins In Cannabis

Descended from a proud Puerto Rican heritage, Becker Macchio learned about cannabis from her mother, who worked at the AIDS Center on Queens Boulevard during the height of the disease’s epidemic in the 1980s and 90s. Recalling that her mother and co-workers would bake cannabis-infused brownies for the Center’s patients in the mode of medical pioneer Brownie Mary, the young woman grew up understanding the plant’s power to heal. 

When cannabis legalized in New York, Becker Macchio formed the Instagram account Buy Cannabis From Moms, creating fun and approachable content so parents could learn about weed safely. A mother of two, she makes it her mission to shout out other courageous canna-moms, including those who facilitated her entry into the industry: “Tanya [Osborne of The CannaDiva], Kimber [Arezzi of Chime & Chill], Rita [of Salty Donut], and Queenee [Da Kanna Kritic] were the first moms I ever met who were unapologetically BLUNT about their experiences,” she notes. “Not only with cannabis use, but also in navigating the challenges of a male-dominated industry and the complex dynamics of being mothers in the public eye. They tackled the perceived ramifications, both imagined and realized, and taught me how to persevere despite them. These are some of the strongest women I know.” 

How Can Parents Use Cannabis Responsibly?

Becker Macchio encourages all women to “step into the light” with cannabis. For mothers (and all parents), she emphasizes that it’s essential to recognize how the plant can be used responsibly.

“It's crucial to understand the remarkable gift that cannabis offers – the gift of presence. Cannabis, when used responsibly, has the power to help you be fully present in the moments of your life while providing relief from pain, nausea, anxiety, and even conditions like PTSD, which can be part of the normal load many of us carry; I carry all of these daily… This knowledge can provide parents with valuable tools to enhance their well-being and the quality of their parenting journey.”

April Becker Macchio On Advocacy, Building Community In New York, And Being A Woman In Cannabis

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: What inspired you to get into the cannabis industry?

APRIL BECKER MACCHIO: My mother has been a profound source of inspiration throughout my journey. She, a proud Puerto Rican, had always been my most vocal and supportive advocate, now an angel on my shoulder, still shouting in my ear. When I was just five years old, the same age as my son is now, my mother worked at the AIDS Center on Queens Boulevard. As New Yorkers, we should not only acknowledge but pay tribute to the fact that the current cannabis market owes much of its origins to the LGBTQIA+ community and their relentless advocacy for medical cannabis during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's truly remarkable how many full-circle moments I experience in this industry. Just as I once ran around the AIDS Center with my mom, while she was tirelessly helping others,  breaking stigmas and advocating for change, I now have the privilege of continuing that legacy with my own children. They’ll run around our property, learning and helping, healing, and, in the process, uniting their community. It's a beautiful testament to the enduring power of LOVE, advocacy and the importance of passing on the torch of understanding and compassion to the next generation.  

My mom and her coworkers turned family, would discreetly bake brownies... to provide relief to the people they worked with and counseled at the AIDS Center. It fills me with immense joy to continue this advocacy work for both patients and this remarkable plant, and to do so as loudly as she was forced to hide. I'm thrilled to be able to raise my own children in the light of a market that recognizes not only the healing potential of these plants but also places proper education about their healing capabilities at the forefront, for both parents and children alike.

How would you describe your mission in the cannabis space?

I like to describe my role in the cannabis space as a provider of safe spaces and community care support. I'm passionate about nurturing a sense of community and continuously working to expand that vision, creating an even more significant community safe space, UNIFY Retreat Motel for all those who seek it. 

What do you wish more people knew about your job?

I wish people understood that my job is a continuous, round-the-clock commitment. As a mother and a business owner who resides at her place of business, there are no off switches in my world. It's a 24/7, 365 days a year, an endless labor of love. Despite the never-ending nature of it, I wouldn't trade the freedom of having my roles as a mother and business owner and advocate so closely aligned for anything. Also, if you have the opportunity, go and give your mom a hug – they deserve all the love and appreciation in the world.

And... I hope people recognize that my role extends beyond providing a unique lodging experience. It involves creating a sense of community and fostering education around cannabis. Our aim is to challenge stereotypes and promote responsible consumption.

What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment in cannabis so far?

My most significant accomplishment in the cannabis industry is my ability to contribute to making other women feel seen, acknowledged and, even more importantly, valued. At its core, it's about all of us coming together to support one another, driven by love. I've been able to do this openly for others because, when I ventured into this arena, it was the Cannamoms who inspired me most with their courage.

Stepping into the light can be quite challenging when the world has conditioned you to hide or conform to a certain perception, or when imposter syndrome creeps in, as it does for all of us, right? RIGHT?!!!! However, the brave souls who've inspired me have filled me with a gratitude that's truly indescribable, but easily overflows and pour out onto others. I understand that spreading this inspiration and encouraging other moms to do the same has ripple effects that may never be fully comprehended. Additionally, I take immense pride in pioneering the establishment of UNIFY Retreat Motel, successfully bridging the gap between cannabis culture and family-friendly hospitality, furthering the mission of unity and understanding in the world of cannabis.

What is your hope for the future of New York's cannabis industry?

Instead of hoping, I want to confirm that the future of New York's cannabis industry is the vision it's had for itself all along, continued growth and expansion while staying dedicated to its mission of being bigger, better, and more diverse than the rest. Highlighting the diversity of this melting pot and remaining committed to prioritizing social equity, diversity, and responsible use. The New York cannabis community will continue to snowball & flourish, guided by a strong commitment to social justice. Which I cannot hope for, because it will happen, New York's is the GOAT and its resilience is unmatched.

So instead I look forward to witnessing Social Equity and Economic Empowerment (SEE) applicants putting down roots in the communities they've tirelessly supported, all the while leading the way toward generational wealth in communities that have been most affected by cannabis prohibition. It's a vision of an inclusive and prosperous industry that uplifts and empowers all those involved. 

How do you like to consume cannabis?

I like to choose my method of cannabis consumption based on the specific relief I'm seeking. While I have a general preference for smoking cannabis, I've been dabbling, pun intended, with dabs (concentrates) more recently, especially for pain and nausea relief, which has provided significant comfort. Tinctures have proven to be an excellent way for me to manage my anxiety, and I'm also a fan of topicals for their targeted benefits. I personally don't metabolize edibles, so these are the best consumption methods for me as well. 

What are your favorite products?

My favorite products to consume are those derived from the plants I've had the unique opportunity to personally meet. This connection with the source of what I consume, whether it's food or medicine, is something I'm very passionate about. Supporting locals and knowing the origins of what I consume is a significant factor in my preference.

What's the best thing about being a woman in cannabis?

The most rewarding aspect of being a woman in the cannabis industry is the opportunity to be a trailblazer, challenging gender stereotypes and advocating for inclusivity and diversity.

What's the worst thing about being a woman in cannabis?

The most challenging aspect of being a woman in the cannabis industry is addressing and combating male bias in its various forms. The rooms I frequent are often less diverse than the city and state we live in, NY, and this can present a formidable challenge. However, this challenge fuels my determination to make a difference and create a safe and inclusive path for more women to thrive in the industry, ultimately making their mark in "HERstory."

For more about April and UNIFY Retreat, follow @unifyretreatmotel and @buycannabisfrommoms on Instagram.

*A version of this article originally appeared in Honeysuckle's 17th print edition, featuring Havoc of Mobb Deep. Get your copy now at dispensaries nationwide or click here to order!

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Featured image: April Becker Macchio, founder and creative director of UNIFY Retreat Motel. Courtesy of April Becker Macchio.