Emma Chasen said:
“Education is the way to further destigmatize this amazing medicinal plant and allow access for more people to feel comfortable considering Cannabis therapy.”
Describe yourself and what you do.
I am a Cannabis educator. I teach people about Cannabis Botany, Cannabis Compounds, the Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptor System, Cannabis Products/Consumption Methods and Empathetic Patient Care.
I saw the huge vacuum of scientific information and comprehensive training in the Cannabis space while working on the retail side of the industry. Luckily, I found Sativa Science Club and was able to co-create an amazing Core Science Certification to fill that gap of budtender education. We want to fill that vacuum by providing the highest standard of Cannabis education out there through Sativa Science Club.
What is your vision for your professional cannabis endeavors?
I’ve been working with Cannabis illegally for quite some time. However, I first entered the legal Cannabis space in September 2015 as a budtender. I have a bachelor’s degree in Ethnobotany, so I am very familiar with the secondary properties of medicinal plants and how they can interact with human physiology. This laid the foundation for me to be able to deeply study Cannabis.
While working in the industry, I noticed the great lack of reliable Cannabis information and the absence of any training on Cannabis science, especially for budtenders. This disturbed me. How is it that the people working the front lines of the industry, the ones who are representing all growers and makers and also simultaneously interfacing with people who often have medical concerns, are not receiving ANY training?! That is unacceptable.
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. With this ethos in mind, I went to work on creating an educational program with Sativa Science Club. I train participants in everything from Cannabis science to how we can effectively engage with novice consumers to communicate this information.
What is your personal cannabis origin story?
Personally, I started using Cannabis when I was 18. I had abstained all throughout high school, but I went to Brown University. And Brown is known as the Ivy League for stoners, so once I got to Brown my fate was pretty much sealed.
I had originally thought that I wanted to pursue medical school after college, so I completed all of my pre-medical coursework. However, I was also fascinated by medicinal plants so I created my own track of study within the Biology program – Ethnobotany and Medicinal Plant Research. This allowed me to deeply study secondary metabolites of many medicinal plants and created quite the foundation for me to be able to personally study Cannabis.
After graduating from Brown, I went on to work for the Brown University Research Oncology Group coordinating clinical oncology trials nationwide. After my supervisor openly laughed at a 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 Farma, the popular Portland dispensary. There I was able to study Cannabis and help patient’s reframe their relationship with the plant. I was named Portland’s “Best Budtender” by the Willamette Week Reader Poll 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 to focus on creating the Cannabis science training program with Sativa Science Club. It’s been such a fun journey thus far, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
What is your Superpower?
I have an ability to really connect with people. People trust me and oftentimes share many vulnerable stories. I hold space for people to feel comfortable enough to share deeply personal stories, and that allows me to help guide them, especially in the context of Cannabis use. I love connecting with people and helping make their life better in any way I can.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?
My greatest obstacle has been finding the right partner to launch this education program. After I stepped down as Farma’s General Manager, I partnered with a few people to really try to bring Cannabis education to the industry, but none of those partnerships worked out.
I take these obstacles as deep learning experiences, and ultimately I believe that those partnerships didn’t work out so that I could find my way to Sativa Science Club. Mary, the owner of Sativa Science Club, is a pleasure to work with, and she has been instrumental in helping co-create this program and bring it to the world.
What is your advice for women in the cannabis industry?
Women need to dominate this industry! The Cannabis product that is so prized is FEMALE! The Cannabis flowers we consume are female flowers! It makes sense that women should dominate this space.
There are a lot of reports and media coming out saying that women do have quite a large piece of the pie when it comes to the Cannabis industry. However, I’m skeptical of those reports. Many women are working in the industry, but how many women are business owners or CEO’s of these companies? I want to see women calling the shots and making big decisions, not slaving away in entry level positions.
To all women who are entering the industry, keep working hard. Make connections.
I started in an entry level position making $12 an hour, and I worked my ass off to get involved in any way I possibly could. Carve out a place for yourself in the Cannabis industry. Bring a special skill or area of expertise to the table. Find good people who will help lift you up. A conscientious work ethic will get you far in the Cannabis industry.
Connect with Emma Chasen