Jen Chan is the founder and owner of  Jen Chan Massage where she features CHABA (Cannabis Health & Beauty Aids) in Washington state. Jen is altruistic, an advocate for patients and an explorer for alternative holistic treatments. I used to think of massage as a luxury where you get pampered with eucalyptus leaves and big fluffy robes, however in the last decade I've discovered the benefits of massage for those in constant pain and not just for a knotted shoulder. The touch of hands for healing on a patient far outweighs a quickly written prescription for opioids, because true healing comes from interaction and care for each patient, a mantra that Jen practices every day with every patient. 

From corporate offices to healing massage, that leap seems destined now by your personality and concern for others but how did your family see your change in path?

My parents taught me the importance of massage at a young age.  I massaged by dad a lot as a kid. He’d always wanted me to step on his back because I was good at it. I went from Pamplin School of Business at Virginia Tech straight into corporate America without a blink.  Working long hours, making good money, but not having the time to do anything with it and not having a life was driving me nuts.  I went to Amsterdam with a few friends and when I came back I wanted to get out of corporate America and seriously into massage therapy.  My parents backed me up as I was very serious, they could see it in my eyes. I went to an accelerated 9 month massage school program and started 2 months late.  Had a tutor that helped me catch up and the rest his history.  I graduated, was first to take and pass the national exam in my graduating class, and had a job within months of graduating.  My parents were happy to see my focus was more on the medical side of massage.  That’s how I healed myself, so that’s what I was fascinated with.

What was one of the best outcomes of your patients/clients when you massaged them with CHABA?

One?  Hmmm RELIEF!  Stress relief…pain relief especially from chronic pain sufferers. Increase quality of life. A massage is great, don’t get me wrong.  Studies have shown there are many different benefits from receiving massage and other body work.  A massage with CHABA is exponentially BETTER!  It will help with pain and inflammation in ways I as a LMT, can’t do. Cannabis therapeutics added to my massages have been an absolute fabulous add on.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes how much of a difference it makes. I can talk all day long about the different relief my clients have received.

What is CHABA?

CHABA stands for Cannabis Health And Beauty Aids and are topicals with less than 0.3% THC in it and not intoxicating. WA is the birthplace of CHABA and as of 2015 WA removed CHABA off the WA Controlled Substance Act.  It is the only product with marijuana in it, that is not considered a drug in WA, and okay for me to use as a massage therapist per the Dept of Health, the people who give me my massage license. We are one of the DOH professionals who are not allowed to “administer, prescribe, or dispense a drug”.

Since entering the cannabis industry, I’ve come across many anecdotes about how patients went from opiates to cannabis, as a survivor of a car accident why did you choose alternative healing? 

My first major car accident I was 15.  A lady ran a red light and smashed into my mom’s Volvo I was driving.  Mom took me to this chiropractor who also did a lot of acupressure and went to straight to massage afterwards.  Massage is a big part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).  Thought the acupressure was a little strange, but the combo got me back to as close to 100% as one could get.  My passion for massage grew significantly after that accident. Naturally heal myself and away from surgery.

Do you see patients moving to cannabis and away from pharmaceuticals out of need to avoid opiates and do are these patients more open minded about cannabis if they are open to alternative healing?

Little bit of both, but mostly because of wanting to get away from pharmaceuticals.  I teach the first continuing education class for LMTs (and other DOH professionals) on CHABA & Cannabis 101 (for WA LMTs) [www.jenchanmassage.com/ces] and the massage therapists who come to my class are experiencing what I’m experiencing. We see clients/patients are getting scared by the opioid epidemic they keep hearing about.  They are tired of taking opiates and dealing with the side effects to the point they are interested in trying something new that may help get some relief and increase their quality of life. Heck, my mom had a laminectomy not too long ago. Her surgeon gave her THREE different pain pills AND a stool softener. She took the pills for a couple of days and ended up using CHABA and cannabis tinctures to help her heal herself and get some much needed sleep.

How does your family feel about your work with cannabis?

It must be a Chinese thing.  Dad doesn’t say much, but sometimes teases that I’m a professor now, but my mom tells me what’s up.  Momma Chan is proud of what I’m doing. I’m teaching LMTs and whoever else comes to my class the basics of CHABA and Cannabis, so they can make their own decision on consuming or not. Reefer Madness No More.  Its all about normalization and education.  Two major points of NORML Women of WA, a group I’m highly active in.  As 1st born I was working my butt off 19 hours a day massaging, teaching, and working at the family’s 502 production/processing company.   I was the HR director, Processing/Packing Manager, and Inventory Manager, and Compliance Officer. I also found time to work on ending breed specific legislation (BSL) and I volunteer with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission and go on a couple homeless search and rescue missions a month. Working myself down, mom asked me to step back on the family’s company, so I could lighten up my load and concentrate on my classes, and cannabis/homeless/BSL advocacy.

In a few words, how would you explain cannabis oil to a new client?

CHABA oil is like any other oil I have in my arsenal of topicals I use to massage my clients. The cannabinoids in CHABA oil make it a little bit more special as it makes my massage better and you’ll have to try it out to see for yourself. The cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system and the relief in consistent massage with CHABA is phenomenal.

How has activism enriched your understanding of the plant and it’s users?

If it wasn’t for my activism I wouldn’t know what I know and wouldn’t be able to do what I do.  I am a member of National NORML, NORML Women of WA, the Cannabis Alliance, Vashon Island Marijuana Enthusiasts Alliance (VIMEA), and Women of Weed (WOW).  I’ve participated and volunteered with Seattle Hempfest, MJBA, the Women’s Cannabis Alliance and support Twenty22Many and Grow For Vets.  The network I built is priceless. They are truly my cannafamily going through the ups and ugly downs of the WA recreational industry and creating a safe environment for me to ask what questions I may have.  The funny thing is I joined because when my family put applications into the WA recreational cannabis industry, I started getting emails from all these different companies.  Since there wasn’t any BBB, I wanted to see if anyone had heard of any of these companies.  Half of the people I know who consumes does not smoke. Which is something people in non legal states find interesting.

I love your mantra that body work such as massage is considered a luxury, part of that thinking comes from spas that tote it as a getaway or a luxurious event enjoyed by those only able to afford it. Massage is an act of love that has been commercialized and monetized by spa chains and resorts. How do you educate the public that it is  affordable and a benefit to those in pain?

I say massage is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  In Chinese culture massage is normal and normal to happen late night.  No funny business. Legitimate massage. If you work hard, you need massage to work you out so you can continue to work hard.  I let people know it is ideal to get massage once a month and break it down for them.  You can find an hour massage anywhere from $60-$120/hr.  For example, if you pay $80/hr, divide that by 4, and you’re paying $20/week for your 1 monthly massage plus whatever tip you choose.  When they hear it broken down, it makes it sound way more reasonable.  Not to mention, it a guarantee “you time” a month that will help with not only your physical self BUT your mental self. It’s all about self care! Win win!

What is your favorite way of enjoying cannabis in your off times?

If you know me, you know I always have oil on me, both concentrate and topicals.  My journey in cannabis has made me become a concentrate girl, that’s a story for a sesh lol. I’ve become a dabber…on a quartz nail. I also do have topicals on me all the time to help with my chronic aches, pains, and inflammation.  I enjoy the occasional joint or glass piece with some water element, but the joint has to be on thin paper and the bud has to be terpy or it will just taste like burnt to me ☹ I’m an OG Kush girl too.  The heavier the OG, the better for me. I’m a fan of anything fruity or citrusy too. Love some good terpenes, such as myrcene, linnalol, and limonene!  Helps my aches and pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, stress, and insomnia.  My dog consumes too! Tinctures and topicals for him!

It must be a Chinese thing. Dad doesn’t say much, but sometimes teases that I’m a professor now, but my mom tells me what’s up. Momma Chan is proud of what I’m doing. - Jen Chan