A Chat with Cannabis Educator Emma Chasen

Emma Chasen has a mission to educate people on the science behind Cannabis so that they may take charge of their own healing.  After graduating from Brown University in 2014 with a Biology degree with a focus in Ethnobotany and Medicinal Plant Research, Emma went on to coordinate Clinical Oncology trials with the Brown University Oncology Research Group.

When her supervisor refused a Cannabis trial in favor of an expensive pharmaceutical drug, Emma quit and headed across the country to Portland, OR. Emma found her way to Farma, the popular Portland dispensary that takes a more scientific approach to Cannabis; rejecting the Indica/Sativa binary and instead focusing on chemotypes to determine effect. She began her career at Farma as a budtender and was quickly promoted to General Manager and eventually to Director of Education. In this role she was able to focus on educational efforts and create a robust training curriculum that focused on cannabis science, product knowledge and empathetic patient care.

Emma now co-owns and operates Eminent Consulting, a cannabis consulting firm that offers educational training and craft industry development for cannabis industry professionals and businesses. Emma was named Portland’s Best Budtender of 2016 and featured in Newsweek, MG Magazine, Forbes, High Times Magazine, The Centennial, The Oregon Leaf and Teen Vogue for her work with cannabis education. She also co-hosts her own radio show and podcast ‘This is Cannabis’.

Emma Chasen of Eminent Consulting

Hi, Emma! Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Emma Chasen and I am a Cannabis educator and consultant. I co-own and operate Eminent Consulting, a cannabis consulting firm leading the efforts for better education and training in the global cannabis industry.

What are you currently working on?
All Eminent, all the time. Working on major updates to our online training curriculum as well as supporting clients in emerging and established markets.

Fun random facts about you:
French fries are my absolute favorite food. I was cast on a FOX reality show. I lived in Hawaii in a tent for about two months. I love performing (singing and acting). I have a deep obsession with candles.

Can you clarify the difference between hemp and other forms of cannabis? Botanically speaking, where is the distinction?
The term cannabis represents the genus of the plant family Cannabaceae. This genus is separated into three species: Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis. Hemp is a part of the cannabis genus and most closely falls under the Cannabis sativa species. From a botanic taxonomic perspective, hemp is cannabis and cannabis is hemp.

The distinction lies in the difference between hemp and ‘drug-cultivar’ cannabis. Hemp represents a plant population that has been historically bred for its primary compounds (fiber, protein, etc) and recently, dominant CBD concentration. The ‘drug-cultivar’ cannabis has historically been bred for high THC concentration. Therefore the distinction of hemp and ‘drug-cultivar’ cannabis lies in the divergence of breeding efforts.

The term Hemp represents a plant population with a consistent chemotype (CBD dominance), whereas the immense breeding efforts of the cannabis plant throughout prohibition has resulted in an incredibly hybridized population of diverse chemotypes. And by definition, to classify as ‘drug-cultivar’ cannabis, the chemotypes all contain more than 0.3% THC, whereas hemp chemotypes contain less than 0.3% THC.

“From a botanic taxonomic perspective, hemp is cannabis and cannabis is hemp.”

Cannabis educator Emma Chasen in her element.

What is CBD and how does it work in the brain/body?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a phytocannabinoid present in both hemp and ‘drug-cultivar’ cannabis. CBD is quite promiscuous in its physiological mechanisms. It can interact with many diverse sets of receptor families as well as other enzymes and factors in the body. CBD’s ability to interact with our bodies through many different routes may explain its immense therapeutic potential in managing a variety of symptoms.

How would you explain the endocannabinoid system to a third grader?
Our bodies are very complex machines and they run constantly to help keep us healthy and alive. However, like any machine that runs constantly, problems in our bodies can arise. These cause sickness and disease. Our bodies have backup systems that help us avoid or quickly resolve disease states – one of those systems is the ECS. We can draw the analogy to the tin man. If our bodies when in disease states are like the rusty tin man, then the ECS, when engaged, is like the oil that helps us get back into balance.

Checking out the massive hemp flowers at Frogsong Farm. (July 2018)

What do you wish the general public knew about CBD? Common misconceptions?
CBD has immense therapeutic potential, however it is not a cure-all. And not all CBD products are created equal. It is incredibly important to research CBD companies, ask about their practices, ask to see lab results, ask about sourcing before you purchase product. Once you have sourced good CBD products (like those offered at Frogsong Farm!) then you must begin experimenting with consumption to find your ideal dose and engage with other holistic modalities of healing (change in diet, exercise, mental health regimen, incorporating other medicinal herbs etc) if needed to optimize symptom relief.

How has public awareness of CBD shifted in the past 5 years?
Five years ago, the general public did not know what CBD was. That is compared to now where everyone, even my grandma, knows about and wants to try CBD. The shift in acceptance of a compound that is derived from one of the most regulated plants on the planet has been inspiring.

What are terpenes, and what role do terpenes play in the therapeutic effects of cannabis?
Terpenes are tiny, fat soluble, aromatic compounds found in almost all plants. They give plants their smell, but they are also associated with physiological properties and contribute to the overall experience associated with cannabis varieties. If cannabinoids are the car engine, terpenes are the steering wheel and can influence an experience to go either sleepy or silly or sexy or introspective or anywhere in between. Terpenes are also thought to act synergistically with cannabinoids, helping our body to better absorb cannabinoids and contributing to the overall medical efficacy of cannabis.

Tell us about CBD isolate.
CBD isolate refers to the isolated cannabidiol molecule. (Sold as a loose white powder or added to tinctures and other CBD products.) You can isolate CBD from hemp or cannabis or you can synthesize the compound in a lab. The problem with CBD synthesized in a lab is that it may not be arranged spatially exactly as CBD isolated from plant material. This can cause issues in how it is absorbed in the body and can influence the observable effects. Even if CBD is isolated from plant material, it will most likely not be as effective as CBD medicine that has been formulated with full-spectrum processing. This is due to the Entourage Effect.

How important is full-spectrum when choosing a cannabis product?
So important! Back to the Entourage Effect – this is a theory popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo that states that all compounds within the cannabis matrix work together synergistically to maximize therapeutic potential of cannabis. This means that when taken together, terpenes and cannabinoids and flavonoids and all of the other compounds in the cannabis matrix multiply each other’s individual properties to better facilitate symptom relief and optimal physiological responses. When you see a product labeled as ‘full-spectrum’ it should mean that the manufacturer employed processing methods that preserved the full range of compounds, the unique fingerprint, of the plant material used for extraction. This should increase the likelihood for a therapeutic experience.

How do you anticipate the CBD industry evolving in the coming years?
I think we will see more regulation. The 2018 Farm Bill is just the start of the impending regulations that will come from the federal government. I hope to see more analytical testing requirements and transparent marketing for consumers.

What other cannabinoids are you especially excited about?
I predict CBG will be the next big cannabinoid!

Why do you support Frogsong Farm?
Because Frogsong Farm is run by LOVELY people who are committed to producing high quality medicine for consumers. In a sea of CBD charlatans, Frogsong brings honesty, transparency and good practices to the industry.

Learn more about Emma Chasen’s work here. Special thanks to Emma for taking the time to chat with us!

What CBD questions do you have? Did you learn something new from this interview? Tell us in the comments below!

One thought on “A Chat with Cannabis Educator Emma Chasen

  1. Brenda says:

    Thank you for all the info! What a great breakdown in the explanation for how it works. I struggle with clients understanding who it works with the body, I will be using this info to pass along to others.

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