Spotlight Series: Emma Chasen, Portland's Best Budtender
Image via farmapdx.com
Emma Chasen is a Brown University graduate who studied Medicinal Plant Research and is currently the General Manager of Farma, one of the most popular dispensaries in Portland, OR and the co-founder of Prismatic Paradigm, which is an organization that seeks to dismantle our capitalistic, patriarchal society through herbal education, empowerment, community and healing workshops. She was recently voted Portland's Best Budtender and her Instagram feed is full of beautiful, colorful images and cannabis.
Tell Us why you do what you do
I want to be involved in this industry so that I may influence the direction that it goes. I want to live in a world where everyone has access to this beautiful plant and its healing potentials. I want there to be research, so that we may be able to talk about Cannabis in an evidence-based scientific way. I believe Cannabis has the potential to change the world - destroy Big Pharma, promote organic, small batch, sustainable cultivation practices - but it us up to us to make sure the highest potential of Cannabis is realized. I want to play an instrumental role in influencing how the world views and uses Cannabis.
What is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?
I have a tremendous responsibility to serve the people who work at Farma and the people who shop at Farma. I open the shop every day, make sure all of the employees have whatever they need to succeed and then we open the store to the community. Educating patients and consumers about this plant and all its healing modalities is so satisfying. Especially when that patient takes home their medicine and finds healing through Cannabis - it's extraordinary.
What is the thing that keeps you up at night?
I am a workaholic with a slight tinge of perfectionism. I want to make sure everyone is happy and things are running smoothly. If there was a conflict in store or between employees I'll play it over and over again in my head, analyzing ways I can do better next time.
How has your job affected your personal relationships?
Just recently I switched from working 50 hours a week to 40 hours a week. That did great things for my personal relationships. Now I get to spend a lot more time with my partner and friends. Otherwise, my friends love the perks of my job - there is so much free Cannabis around all of the time.
What time does your day typically start and what does a normal day look like to you?
I open the shop between 8:30 and 9 every day Monday-Friday. Staff doesn't come in until; 10, so for that first hour I make coffee, water the flowers, straighten up, print out the roster, and answer emails. From 10-11 staff sets up the shop and I assist, making sure all product is fully stocked and ready to go. At 10:45 we have a pre-shift meeting to discuss the products available for the day. Then I usually have meetings and consultations with medical patients, journalists, potential vendors, etc. At 3pm our evening shift comes in and I run a pre-shift meeting. I am also responsible for checking in any new product into our system. That generally takes up my late afternoon 3:30-5. And then I'm off and leave the closing of the shop in the very capable hands of our assistant managers.
In what way(s) is your job most rewarding?
Watching people's lives change for the better because of Cannabis is one of the most rewarding experiences. However, I also find great joy in the education and the community that the Cannabis industry can provide. We hold weekly education sessions at Farma where I invite a grower/vendor/researcher to come in and talk to staff. The opportunity to connect, learn and support each other in the pursuit of knowledge surrounding this plant is so exciting.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you've faced working with cannabis?
The biggest challenge is also what excites me most about Cannabis: there is still so much we don't know! We know that this plant has so much medicinal potential and we have documented anecdotal evidence of it helping people treat major ailments, like cancer and epilepsy. However, we do not have the scientific data to support these claims. When working with a new patient or customer it is frustrating to not have scientific research to reference. However, it is important to remember that we are experiencing the birth of an industry. I trust that scientific research will come and we will discover so much more than we ever thought we could about this magical plant. Cannabis is the new frontier. And I am so grateful to be standing at the beginning of it all, helping to inform the direction that this industry will go.
Can you tell us about Prismatic Paradigm?
Prismatic Paradigm is a company that I founded with my soul sister, Alyssa Wildrick. Together we have a lot of years of experience studying herbal medicine and alternative healing modalities. I graduated from Brown with a degree in Medicinal Plant Research and Alyssa is a reiki healer finishing up her last year of clinical herbalism school. Through prismatic we want to help people find the answer to the question, 'What is your good medicine?'. Too often the "medicine" in our society makes us sicker. Look at the pharmaceutical opioid epidemic or obesity in America. We want to teach people about plant medicine and all of the ways the Earth can make us feel good. I see Cannabis as the all-star plant medicine leading the charge of the botanical revolution. While Prismatic Paradigm is not a Cannabis company, we do highlight medicinal herbs and mindfulness exercises that can be used in combination with Cannabis. At the end of the day, we want people to feel really good. That's what Prismatic Paradigm is all about.
How did Prismatic Paradigm get started and what is your vision for the company?
Prismatic Paradigm started in January 2017. It came out of a desire to create something new in a world that felt so dark. The election really did a number on the collective consciousness. I wanted to create an organization that helped alleviate the collective anxiety and fear through connection with the Earth. Right now, we are focusing on our product line for Prismatic and running events and workshops. We hope to eventually move into a storefront where we can sell our products, offer community events, workshops and courses and have a garden space to cultivate medicinal plants. We think our mission statement really encompasses what we want to do; Prismatic Paradigm seeks to dismantle our capitalistic patriarchal society through herbal education, empowerment, community and healing workshops.
If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out, what advice would you give yourself?
I still consider myself "starting out" since I've only been in this for a year. The constant mantra of advice I give to myself is that I'm still learning and growing. I don't need to know everything or be everywhere. It's ok to take it slow because I've found in this industry, things move pretty quickly and opportunities find you. Take chances, speak your truth and fight for the integrity of the Cannabis plant. That's what it's all about.