Interview with Emma Chasen
Co-Founder & CEO @ Eminent Consulting Firm

After graduating from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in 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 another expensive pharmaceutical drug, Emma quit and headed across the country to Portland, OR. She 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 business that offers educational training programs for cannabis industry professionals and lay enthusiasts. She helps brands develop educational marketing collateral and ongoing educational programs to further elevate their brand presence in a competitive industry. She also helps struggling cannabis businesses with business organization and sets them up for success in the competitive adult use market. Emma continues to seek ways to spread cannabis education through consulting, writing, speaking and teaching. Check out eminentconsultingfirm.com for more information.
Hi Emma! Could you please introduce your work with Eminent Consulting and tell us a bit more about what led to your co-founding the consultancy last year?
Hi, my name is Emma, and I am an cannabis educator and consultant based out in Portland, Oregon. I have been in the legal cannabis industry now for the last, almost four years. I entered into Oregon coming from a background - an academic background - in medicinal plant research and ethnobotany, as well as a brief stint working in oncology research all over at Brown University on the East Coast. And I traveled out to Portland wanting something different, I also was thinking that I was going to pursue a path in naturopathy school, and instead landed into the cannabis industry here in 2015. The rest is kind of history. What I noticed from my work in the industry - especially at the beginning and continued throughout my time in the cannabis industry - is that there is very limited educational resources. And when it comes to training of bud tenders and retail cannabis professionals there is almost no comprehensive, standardized education or training in that space, and to me that was absolutely inexcusable, and a liabilit. That people on the frontlines of this emerging industry were helping people who had questions that their doctors couldn't even answer, and also were tasked with the responsibility of representing an entire industry behind them. So what I set out to do is create a standardized education program, with a ton of educational resources that help to make scientific evidence surrounding cannabis and its purported effects more digestible and accessible for the entire population. So it's part of what I do now with Eminent Consulting - we focus a lot on the science of cannabis, on providing those educational resources, as well as helping out emerging cannabis businesses in new markets.
What have been some of the most successful cannabis entrepreneurs you've worked with as Eminent Consulting?
It's really all about how you define success! In my time as a cannabis educator and consultant I've worked with international, multi-state operators and corporate conglomerates, and I've also worked with one-off small mom-and pop-locations. At times, a lot of times, I've really preferred those smaller mom-and-popmission-driven to the large multi-state operators. I've worked with prolific legacy growers; I've worked with, again, a lot of new money that are building the smartest technological systems and advancements. It's a mixed bag, and right now with Eminent - we've really only been in operation for about a year - and so our biggest, most exciting projects are still in development. And right now, with one of our favorite client groups, we are building a state-of-the-art dispensary. We are crafting a model that has never been done before, and I'm actually so excited to bring this project to fruition, because it's going on below everything that's been done out of the water.
What role does Eminent Consulting play in the Portland cannabis scene, and how has it become involved in the ecosystem?
So before Eminent Consulting was even created, my business partner Matt and I both were instrumental in building the Portland cannabis scene. We both entered into the industry just as the state was transitioning from its medical market into its adult use paradigm, and we were responsible - in a dispensary environment - for crafting a very boutique high-end shelf space, meaning that we worked with a ton of vendors, and we were able to really craft what we believed a dispensary should be: something that was rooted in really high quality products, empathetic patient care, and amazing cannabis information and customer service. So before Eminent was even created, we were instrumental in creating the Portland cannabis ecosystem. Now, as Eminent, we are the hub for scientific information around cannabis. We have entered into collaborative relationships with so many wonderful people in this industry, here in Portland and beyond. We also have an ethos that is to elevate our ecosystem, and so, if there is a project that we're working on that we have identified, "Oh you know what? There's actually another one of our collaborators, or colleagues, or peers who could do this better, or who should be roped into the project," then we do that as well. It's all about supporting our home-grown network here, to make sure that everybody is successful.
What separates Eminent Consulting from other cannabis business consultancies?
So, I don't even really love the term 'consultants', because right now everybody and their mother wants to be a cannabis consultant if they've worked in this industry for more than a year. But 'consultant' allows us to create an umbrella term for the multifaceted approach, and the many services that we offer to the cannabis community. What separates Eminent Consulting from all the other consultancies out there, is that we do have a specialized niche in the area of education and training. It's something that both me and my business partner are both really passionate about: providing accessible and digestible education to all people, industry professionals and enthusiasts, that's coming from a scientific paradigm or understanding of cannabis and purported effects. We also are really invested in creating long-term sustainable, authentic, collaborative relationships. We do not operate in the green rush mentality. We are not in cannabis to make money, because newsflash: nobody in cannabis is making money right now. We partner with groups who want to create smart, sustainable cannabis businesses, that have a potential for revolution; that can do good; that are mission driven - really, with the ethos to help people. That's why we're in this. That's why we do what we do.
What's next for your work with Eminent Consulting? What new services, partnerships and markets will you be focusing on throughout the next year?
I have been building and workshopping an educational training program targeted for dispensary professionals for the last three-plus years in cannabis. Right now, we do have an online school that exists - it's on a kind of clunky technology platform, and so currently Eminent is doing a huge revamp of our online school. We're gonna make the training really fun, really cool, science-heavy but understandable, personable, accessible - so super excited about that! We are also working with a ton of different clients - nationally as well as globally - so trying to build the best dispensaries out there, to serve as many patients and customers as possible.