Lots of people have a story about experimenting with cannabis during their high school or college years. In fact, a 2018 study found that 38 percent of students age 19–22 used cannabis in the last 12 months. But there are significantly fewer who can claim to have turned a dalliance with mood-altering substances into a bona fide career. Alex Capano isn’t most people. She’s the first (and, to date, only) doctor of cannabinoid science in the United States and currently works as the chief science officer at Ecofibre Limited, a technological leader in the hemp industry. Career goals, much?
“I studied neuroscience in undergrad, and some of our professors would talk about how different substances, including cannabis, affect the brain,” she explains when we meet to discuss her work. “I always thought it was interesting and understudied, and I thought it had medicinal value. But it wasn’t until 2011 that I thought, I really want to specialize in this and dive deeper.” With her bright coral lipstick and patchwork denim blazer, her presence doesn’t scream nurse practitioner (whose interest in cannabinoid science eventually led her back to school to get her doctorate degree). But as we learn over the course of our conversation, Capano has her own way of doing things, and her instincts, especially in the cannabis space, are typically spot-on.