Emma Chasen embarked upon a long and winding journey to become the cannabis educator and influencer she is today. In 2014, She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in medicinal plant research and ethnobotany. After a professor proposed a cannabis trial to her supervisor at the Brown University Oncology Research Group, where Chasen was doing her post-bacc studies, and was laughed out of the office, she decided to make a change and move. Chasen chose to move to Portland, Oregon, not to break into the cannabis industry, but to find a more supportive community for holistic, plant medicine in general.
It’s safe to say the move was a good decision, and Chasen found her people and her niche. Chasen recently told CULTURE about her journey, influence, goals and cannabis’ role in it all.
How did you get started as a cannabis influencer and educator?
In August 2015, I moved across the country to Portland and very serendipitously arrived a month before legalization, so the entire industry was hiring. I very luckily found my way to Farma, which is a more scientifically minded dispensary here in Portland that places a lot of value on helping patients and customers reframe the way they think about cannabis. There I quickly became General Manager.
I stepped down from my role as GM after about a year, and carved out a role for myself at Farma called Director of Education, where I helped to create a comprehensive onboarding program, as well as an ongoing accounts education program for staff.
After two years at Farma, I decided to leave and launch this curriculum to the community at large. Now I work as a freelance cannabis consultant, and I also teach a bunch of workshops online and in the community from my curriculum that I’ve developed. And I also help businesses create educational marketing collateral that’s specific to their brand, so they can really reach the budtender community to the best of their ability and provide them with all of the knowledge it takes to help them succeed in a very competitive market.
“Really what I try to do with all my work, including my social media presence, is try to make people feel less intimidated making the decision to incorporate cannabis use into their lifestyle.”
How did you go about cultivating your social media following?
I’m lucky enough to be very good at relationship management, and I always say that that’s 99 percent of success. How you manage relationships, how you show up in networking spaces. So since I stepped down as GM from Farma, I really focused my efforts on networking. And since I have a knack for public speaking so I was able to book a lot of speaking gigs, and started generating a following that way. That translated into a pretty successful and constantly growing Instagram presence.
How has your work as a cannabis influencer affected your everyday life?
It has been awesome. In Portland, it is a relatively small community, and the cannabis community is even smaller. So I do get stopped on the street sometimes which is really fun. And when I go out and do my trainings I definitely get the kind of fan girls. Which I am so grateful for and I think it’s really cool, that my work is really resonating with people, and I actually get to go out and meet them when I do my work.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work as an influencer?
Really what I try to do with all my work, including my social media presence, is try to make people feel less intimidated making the decision to incorporate cannabis use into their lifestyle. There are a lot of people who are really excited about this movement, and I want to honor them. But I also really want to speak to and support the community of people who feel intimidated about accessing cannabis.