Cannabis educator Emma Chasen has a mission to educate people on the science behind plant medicine, so that they may take charge of their own healing. We love her because she’s really good at explaining scientific concepts around cannabis in a way that is accessible and helpful to the general public. Named one of Weed’s Leading Women by Newsweek, Emma co-owns and operates Eminent Consulting, a cannabis consulting business that offers educational training and craft industry development for cannabis industry professionals and businesses. She helps brands develop educational marketing collateral and ongoing educational programs to further elevate their brand presence in a competitive industry.
She also helps struggling and newly emerging cannabis businesses with business organization, and sets them up for success in both the competitive medical and adult use markets. Keep reading to learn a thing or two about her incredible journey, as well as her favorite chemotype for a new cannabis industry spotlight feature.
I first entered the cannabis industry in September 2015 as a budtender. I have a bachelor’s degree specializing in Ethnobotany and Medicinal Plant Research from Brown University, so I am very familiar with the secondary properties of medicinal plants and how they can interact with human physiology. After graduating from Brown in 2014, I went on to work for the Brown University Oncology Research Group. After my supervisor openly laughed at a potential cannabis trial and instead chose to go with another billion dollar pharmaceutical trial, I quit. I packed up my car and drove across the country to Portland, OR.
Two weeks after arriving in Portland, I got a budtending job at the popular Portland dispensary Farma. There, I was able to study cannabis and help patients reframe their relationship with the plant. I was named Portland’s Best Budtender and was quickly promoted to General Manager of Farma. After managing the shop for just over a year, I stepped down and carved out a new role for myself as Director of Education. I trained staff on cannabis science, kept up on the latest research, and worked with patients who had severe medical issues. After working for Farma for two years, I left the dispensary world to focus on building my own company to provide business consulting, education and training services for the cannabis industry. I freelanced for a while, built my cannabis science curriculum and taught workshops until I was ready to put down more formal roots with my business partner and form our company, Eminent Consulting.
What are you up to now?
Currently, I run my company Eminent Consulting with my business partner, Matt. We have a mission to guide and influence emerging cannabis entrepreneurs to successfully implement a craft ethos and cutting-edge business model through scientific-based educational initiatives and authentic collaborative relationships. To accomplish this we have two arms to our consulting business: one, science-forward training for industry professionals that equips entrepreneurs and employees with the knowledge to best explain cannabis and its purported effects to consumers.
The other arm is strategic business development and management consulting relationships with cannabis entrepreneurs in emerging and existing markets. Through both of these avenues, we are able to promote our missions of accessible cannabis science education and adoption of ethical, craft business practices, thereby allowing more people to benefit from plant medicine.
What’s the biggest misunderstanding about your job?
I often say that I really don’t like the term consultant because I think people have a negative perception around consulting, especially in cannabis. There’s a lot of competition in the cannabis consulting arena and I’ve heard people refer to consultants as “soulless” and “money hungry.” While there are many consultants out there that only care about profits, there are some that really care about people. Matt and I set up our consulting business with a mission-driven ethos in mind — to help people (both entrepreneurs and consumers) have a better understanding of and relationship with plant medicine.
Therefore, we are very selective with who we take on as clients - yes, we absolutely help you streamline processes, increase efficiency, improve ROI, and create educational marketing collateral, but more importantly we want to get to know you, your mission, and develop lasting relationships that have a positive impact on both people and planet. If clients don’t align with our approach that values craft culture, patient values, worker’s rights, and social equity then we’re not a good fit and will turn down the project, no matter how deep their pockets run.
Do you have to deal with the stigma around marijuana from family or friends?
Luckily, my family and friends are supportive of my work with cannabis, mostly because of my success. At the beginning of my cannabis career, my friends and family were scared for me. My extended family in particular had (and continue to have) a lot of negative stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis users. I know that most of the negative stigma surrounding cannabis comes from fear. Fear of getting caught. Fear of being criminalized. Fear of becoming addicted to “drugs.” Fear of the whole industry being shut down by crazy people in the government. I get it. I sympathize with their fear and know that they are ultimately looking out for my safety.
However, I also know that most of their fear has no validity and so I try to educate whenever I can. I debunk their cannabis myths with scientific information, I engage with them regarding the thriving climate of the craft cannabis industry in Portland, I point to my allies in this movement who are strong, smart and committed to this plant. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. But it makes me feel good to communicate information in a reasonable, logical, intelligent way. Ultimately, it is my life’s journey and they can choose to live in fear or shed the stigma — that’s up to them.
How do you believe we can de-stigmatize cannabis?
The way that we elevate our industry is through education. Education is the way to further destigmatize this amazing medicinal plant and allow access for more people to feel comfortable considering cannabis therapy. There is a sea of misinformation regarding cannabis because of the government propaganda that was put out during the century of prohibition. Many people looking to explore cannabis therapy are very nervous due to the lack of reputable information. Will cannabis kill me? Can I overdose? What if I don’t have the language to get what I need? What if my budtender is dismissive of my needs and gives me a bad experience?
As a cannabis industry, we need to be able to answer these questions and many more with reputable, scientific information. We need to reassure novice consumers, while simultaneously being very honest about how much we don’t yet know about this amazing medicinal plant. The need for this kind of education informed Eminent’s online cannabis science training program. My hope is to create the nationwide standard for industry training on the science of cannabis. With more educated and informed industry workers, we can help potential consumers and the general public to further destigmatize cannabis and even benefit from use.
What is the most powerful benefit of cannabis in your opinion?
Cannabis has incredible therapeutic potential. As more cannabis research comes out, we are uncovering the power of the compounds in the cannabis matrix to work together to promote symptom relief. This is called the Ensemble Effect. It’s the theory that all cannabis compounds work together to produce the most therapeutic response possible. This is why I am such an advocate for whole plant medicine. Whole plant medicine, such as cannabis flower, has the full range of compounds, and therefore is able to produce a much more therapeutic experience than a distillate or extract for example. The potential of cannabis with its full range of secondary compounds, to act as a homeostatic agent, anti-proliferative, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-convulsant, antiemetic, the list can go on and on, is what makes cannabis such a powerful medicinal herb. It has the ability to hit so many targets in the body and enact healing on so many levels.
What’s your favorite strain?
I don’t have a favorite strain, but I do have a favorite chemotype (the chemical compounds found inside cannabis). I love a cannabis variety with an elevated concentration of CBD, something with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio is perfect — a little euphoria from the THC balanced by the grounding energy of the CBD. If the variety has a little pinene and limonene (two terpenes that promote clarity of mind and elevated mood) even better! I consume cannabis for the euphoric, motivating experience. I don’t really enjoy cannabis varieties that make me super sleepy and glue me to the couch, unless of course I’m consuming with the intention of a more restful sleep.