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  • Post Time Posted March 07, 2019
Emma Chasen has carved out a unique niche in the cannabis industry. A graduate of Brown University, Chasen received a specialized biology degree in medicinal plant research before eschewing naturopathy and jetting across the country to pursue a career as a budtender, then education coach, at the renowned Farma dispensary in Portland, Oregon. As the left brain behind Eminent Consulting, which builds educational content for the cannabis industry, Chasen has now become one of the industry’s leading female voices. We caught up with her recently to discuss the science of cannabis, indica-sativa classifications, and the importance of International Women’s Day.

Cannabis and science have formed a significant bond. What are your hopes for the future of that relationship?

When we talk about cannabis research and the science of cannabis, there is immense potential. We are coming out of a century-long era of prohibition that blacked out a lot of the necessary research efforts that could have been done. What’s happening right now, as we shed that prohibition, we are uncovering some of the reasons for the huge medicinal potential of cannabis. Those answers lay in science – we need scientific evidence to fully elucidate the way that all of the plant’s chemical compounds work to produce some really miraculous medicinal experiences.

Do you reject the indica-sativa classification?

I do reject the indica-sativa dichotomy as the only means to predict experience for consumers. That method is incredibly reductive and also non-sensical, because those two terms actually define a species of cannabis. The way that you define species is by looking at the morphology of the plant, the way it grows. Indica-sativa actually has nothing to do with the intended effect that’s delivered to the user when you consume it.

How should we categorize cannabis?

We should look to its chemotype. We now have access to major and minor cannabinoid profiles and terpene profiles to begin to really understand and predict the nuance of experiences. Getting away from the dichotomy of indica-sativa, we should move into a more experience-based classification system. I think we need further research to be able to understand the topic, but a good first step is to move away from indica-sativa and into a new language and dialogue around the way these compounds may make somebody feel.

In what ways is education important to the contemporary cannabis discussion?

Education is absolutely crucial to the discussion. What we’re dealing with right now is a vastly undereducated consumer market, which is in turn driving the cannabis industry. If we want to preserve craft cannabis, small-batch sustainable growing practices, as well as ethically- and environmentally-conscious formulations, then we must educate the consumer market for how to define quality in cannabis, and how to ask the right questions to better access the products that will actually work best for them.

What motivated you to start Eminent Consulting?

My time at Farma laid the foundation for me to go down the rabbit hole of cannabis science and research. What I noticed was a lack of standardized, comprehensive education in the space. To me, that was a huge vacuum and a huge opportunity. I set out to focus on consulting with a niche of education and training in the space – going into dispensaries and teaching the program that I developed, which focusses on the fundamentals of cannabis science, product information, and consumption methods. That has evolved into the creation of this consulting firm with my business partner, who I met at Farma three-and-a-half years ago.

Is cannabis unique for the opportunities that it affords women?

I think so; the timing has been good. With the second wave of the intersectional feminist movement coupled with this new emerging industry, it presents a good opportunity for the first time in history to really bring women into the fold. The last opportunity like this, the tech industry, excluded women. With cannabis, you have brands and companies that want to tap into the female consumer market. And therefore, you need women to develop strategies to access that market.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a day to really celebrate how far women have come, and also a day to acknowledge how far we have to go. There are absolutely still some systemic changes that need to be made, and from a social-responsibility standpoint, we still need to elevate everybody else – women of colour, for instance – to the same playing field and, again, continue to fight for equality within a patriarchal society.

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