When Emma Chasen’s supervisor at the Brown University Oncology Research Group declined her request for cannabis trials and instead, encouraged an expensive pharmaceutical drug, Chasen knew her journey would lead to greener meadows elsewhere. Now, an industry consultant and cannabis educator, named Portland’s Best Budtender 2016, featured on television and podcasts, Newsweek, MG Magazine, Stoner Magazine, High Times Magazine, The Oregon Leaf and Teen Vogue, Chasen is changing lives by helping people heal and understand the scientific powers of the plant.
After graduating in 2014 with a degree in Medicinal Plant Research, Chasen began coordinating at the Clinical Oncology trials with the Brown University Oncology Research Group. She soon realized she could no longer work for a company that did not support her vision and drifted to Portland, Oregon where she found herself aligned with a company that took a more scientific approach to cannabis - Farma, a popular Portland dispensary. Beginning her career as a Budtender for the dispensary, in a few short months, she quickly became promoted to the General Manager. After a little over a year in that role, she was given the title of Director of Education, focusing on educational efforts and creating training curriculum focused on the science behind the plant, knowledge, medicinal benefits and empathic patient care.
After over two years of acquiring extensive experience and knowledge at Farma, she decided to continue her journey with Sativa Science Club, a grassroots cannabis education initiative. By joining, she understood that she could target the cannabis community on a larger scale and expand her curriculum into a certification program. In the fall of 2017 through the Sativa Science Club, Chasen launched the Core Science Certification program which focuses on everything from cannabis botany and cannabis compounds to the endocannabinoid receptor system, cannabis products and more.
With a heart of gold, Chasen is positively impacting and influencing the cannabis industry, on her mission to educate the people on the science behind cannabis.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? I am a cannabis educator and consultant. I work with cannabis businesses to elevate their brand presence by creating consumer facing educational marketing collateral and educational programs. I also help retail cannabis businesses successfully navigate the transition from medical to adult-use cannabis. I help with business organization, structure and also create in-house educational training programs so that employees are better able to service the consumer market. In this highly competitive market, cannabis businesses must distinguish themselves and the way to do that is with highly trained and educated staff. I also teach workshops in Portland for both enthusiasts and cannabis industry professionals on the fundamentals of cannabis science. Since I have a robust background in medicinal plant research, I feel it is part of my job to explain cannabis science in an accessible and meaningful way for people of all backgrounds.
TELL MJ ABOUT YOUR EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE IN CANNABIS. I graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree specializing in medicinal plant research. I tried to study cannabis in my undergrad, but could not due to its illegal status. So anything I wanted to know about cannabis I had to teach myself. Luckily, my degree gave me a foundational understanding of how secondary metabolites operate within a plant matrix and the medicinal potential of secondary metabolites when consumed by humans. I read as much literature as I could find on cannabis and began studying the plant in a more hands-on way when I moved to Portland and began working at Farma (a scientifically-minded dispensary) in 2015. Since then I have been lucky enough to continue my study of cannabis by having access to the latest research and interfacing with some of the industry’s most brilliant minds. I like to think of cannabis as the ‘All Star’ medicinal plant; the medicinal plant that will help people feel empowered to explore holistic modalities in regards to their health and wellness. And the potential of that reframing the way we approach healthcare is so damn exciting.
EXPLAIN YOUR GOAL(S) IN EDUCATING THE COMMUNITY? I have a mission to educate people on the science behind cannabis. Because I have an extensive scientific background (in addition to my degree, I worked in oncology research after I graduated) I really see my role as someone who is able to translate scientific language into layman’s terms. Currently there is a problem with cannabis education. Reliable cannabis science information is often only found in dense, research articles that can be hard to understand. Blogs and internet sites will also publish articles with cannabis science, however it is often difficult to determine the legitimacy of the information. I believe education and information should be accessible to all. My job is to take scientific concepts discussed in research papers and present them in such a way that everyone can understand. I educate everyone from consumers to budtenders to industry professionals. I believe that everyone should invest in cannabis education, as it is crucial for advancing this industry forward in a responsible, ethical paradigm.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU THINK WOMEN FACE AS A WHOLE IN THE INDUSTRY? There are many challenges that women face in this industry that are extraordinarily similar to systemic problems we face in other industries - sexual misconduct, abuse of power by men, wage gaps, and lack of equal representation. Due to media, people believe women finally do have equal representation in the cannabis industry and that creates a false sense of complacency. The amount of female CEOs in the cannabis industry is close to the abysmally low national average. We still need to fight to gain ownership. And we haven’t even talked about the immense challenges women of color have in being a part of this industry.
WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY? The potential for discovery! There is so much that we still get to uncover about this amazing plant. We’re just at the beginning and I am so excited to see all that the future holds for cannabis. I’m also hopeful for the revolutionary impact that cannabis could have on both the agricultural and healthcare industries.
ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY CANNABIS ORGANIZATIONS OR GROUPS? I am! There are so many wonderful organizations/groups in the Oregon Cannabis industry. One of my favorites is Tokeativity - a cannabis community for women with the intention to nurture a safe space for women to create, learn, and connect.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO PURSUE A CANNABIS CAREER? Learn everything you can about cannabis and find your niche - what excites you, what are you great at, what can you bring to this space. Because the industry is so nascent there is so much opportunity for creativity and innovation. Trust in your genius, make connections, invest your time in people who want to elevate you, and work like hell.
FIVE THINGS PEOLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU:
People think I’m an extrovert but I actually am a big homebody at heart
I was a hardcore substance free human (like puritanical) until my second semester of college
I was cast on a reality tv show on FOX
When I was growing up I wanted to either be a surgeon or an actress
I am obsessed with French Fries
FIVE THINGS TOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT:
Chance by Chanel perfume
My phone (my family lives in NY so it’s the way I stay connected with them)
This is not a thing per say, but I can’t live without my friends and family. I am so incredibly grateful for their support.
Trees. Trees are so goddamn special and I love them so much. Plus, we all literally *could not* live without them
TOP FIVE FAV BEAUTY PRODUCTS:
Anastasia glow palette
Tarte liquid primer
Anastasia chocolate eyeshadow palette
Kiehl's facial moisturizer
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST AND WHY? My mom definitely inspires me the most. She is so strong, kind, loving, gracious and powerful. She raised four kids while also running a business devoted to the social/emotional wellbeing of children. She owns and operates a private school, Spark Elementary, that seeks to advance the social/emotional development of pre-k and elementary school children through literacy and creative arts therapies. Like yes, everyone should be following her lead!! I definitely hope to become as resilient and wonderful as she is.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL WHAT WOULD YOU BE? Probably a giraffe. I’d love to glide around and eat leaves from the tops of trees all day.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? I love watching movies, it’s my favorite way to relax. I also love to cook. And if I’m feeling like going out my favorite thing to do is to go see one of my best friend’s perform with his band, Jame. He’s an incredible performer.
FAVORITE STRAIN TO SMOKE? I generally enjoy chemovars with higher concentrations of pinene. I love the heightened presence and clarity that come along with pinene.
FAVORITE WAY TO CONSUME? I actually love edibles. That’s my preferred method of ingestion. But I also love a joint rolled with some additional passionflower, lemon balm and peppermint.
INTERVIEW BY Amy C. Witt