Back to Blog List
Cannabis Activist April Becker Macchio

We Are Upstate with April Becker Macchio – Cannabis Activist, Advocate, and Trailblazer

By Melissa Esposito | August 22, 2023

For decades, local cannabis advocates have shouted,“Legalize it!” And now that New York State has made recreational use legal — despite opening dispensaries at what can be called an overcautious pace — those chants have shifted to the next challenge: “Normalize it.”

April Becker Macchio of the Town of Cochecton has heeded that call, taking to social media as an advocate, activist, and mother, using her platform to destigmatize the “mom guilt” often associated with women who use cannabis for medicinal, relaxation, or creative purposes.

“I want to let moms know that it’s okay to take care of your mental health with the tools you have available — and if you’re able to do that with cannabis, there’s nothing wrong with that.

April continues, “By using plant medicine you’re still able to be a good member of the family, as a wife, as a mom, and in whatever role you need to fill,” Becker Macchio says. “I have kids, too, so I get it; it’s hard to find time for yourself. As moms, we often put ourselves and our needs at the bottom of our own to-do lists. But for many of us, cannabis is a way to connect back to ourselves. To ground ourselves. To allow us to be present for our families. Whether you have anxiety, PTSD, or just a bad day, it helps us regain a part of ourselves.”

Becker Macchio began publicly advocating for the normalization of plant medicine on social media right after New York passed its Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA). She started an Instagram page under the name Buy Cannabis From Moms (now called, @unifybuyearthmedicinesfrommoms) to create fun and approachable content centered around parenting, mental health, and weed. Although Instagram took down the account because it found the name controversial, she was able to get a new account started, currently searchable under her full name.

“It was important for me to keep this going because it’s not just about sharing content, it’s become a community,” Becker Macchio explains. “I met a mom online that had been going through a battle with Child Protective Services (CPS) because she used cannabis for her mental health; knowing that she did nothing wrong, she stood up to the system and stood her ground so eloquently — it was inspiring. Seeing her bravery was a catalyst to helping me work through the last of my own fears around dropping my masks and putting forth my true self into the world. It’s been inspiring to see how many other women are starting to face their own fears each day, and doing it with such grace.”

But it’s not just moms who connect with her content; career-oriented women, regardless of parenting status, have reached out with gratitude for feeling empowered to remove the taboo around marijuana use, whether they’re patients or social smokers. Becker Macchio often hears stories similar to her own when she meets online followers at in-person networking events or industry expos.

“For many people, there’s generally still this very Cheech and Chong version of cannabis smokers in their heads, and that’s not how I present — online or in my everyday life,” Becker Macchio says. “Like so many others, I tried to hide that I was a cannabis user, especially in the professional world. But now I see it as you shouldn’t have to sneak around. You can understand responsible consumption. And when used in a medical way, you can unlock true potential. I think more people are starting to see and accept that you can be a professional and still use cannabis on your own time.”

Becker Macchio is also part of a group blazing the trail for the cannabis hospitality industry to take root in our region through Unify Retreat, a plant-medicine motel in Cochecton. “My background is in marketing and business development, and I worked under CEOs in multiple industries, but always wanted to be CEO in my own way,” she explains.

Cannabis Activist April Becker Macchio and Team

Sam and Monika Shustack, April and Michael Macchio

Partnering with her co-parent Michael “Macch” Macchio, her best friend Sam Shustack, and his wife Monika, the team purchased the former Forestdale Motor Lodge in Cochecton — the closest hotel to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts — to revamp it as a music-themed motel that allows the use of cannabis in rooms and on the premises. The concept isn’t brand new — “bud and breakfasts” have thriving presences in other New York regions like Manhattan or the Finger Lakes. But Unify is the first hotel of its kind, centered around the idea of normalizing and educating others on the use of plant medicine, in a safe and supportive environment.

Opening in October, Unify offers 10 rooms and four suites with kitchenettes, spread out among three themed buildings: the Hippie House pays homage to all-things Woodstock, Musicians Motel focuses on influential performers, and Street Art Studios celebrates artists of various stripes from near and far. Guests are gifted cannabis at check-in — nothing is for sale, but a gift is allowed, as per the MRTA. The property will also feature a pool, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge, and conference center, currently under construction. There are flourishing gardens to explore, planted by the previous owners.

“We were lucky to inherit gardens with this property that were established more than 35 years ago,” she says. “Many of the plants are medicinal, like sage and lavender, and our goal is to showcase the healing properties of all medicinal plants with educational signage.” Continuing the emphasis on education, she says plans are in the works to team up with local master herbalists to host workshops like foraging medicinal plants and identifying smokable herbs.

“Education really is our biggest challenge when it comes to normalizing cannabis and plants as medicine,” she says. “The stigma runs deep, and it’s very racially charged, too. As a Hispanic woman I see it within my own culture — there’s often a lot of shame because people have friends or family who have gotten locked up in the past, so it’s hard for people to see this as suddenly okay now. But this is a critical turning point; we have this door that’s been opened for us. We just need to be brave enough to walk through it together.”

Photos by Andrew Fennell

+ + +

Connect with April Becker Macchio and her Hotel Unify Retreat > Website
1166 County Road 114 Cochecton NY 12726
Telephone: 845-991-1317
Email: [email protected]


Click HERE to see all of our exclusive interviews with the amazing folks that proudly call the Hudson Valley home.

Write a Comment


Have an account?