- Photo courtesy of Farma Pdx
- Emma Chasen is a bud-ified pro
You're expected to know a dizzying amount of details about the products your dispensary carries: the lineage of the strains, the terpene levels and effects, the best options for individual conditions and more—and that's just for the flower. There's some real science to all this, and for a myriad of reasons, many dispensaries do not offer their budtenders the degree of training they both need and desire. Which is why you may have had the experience of requesting a strain good for sleep issues only to have the budtender reply that "Well, I dunno, this Blue Dream is fire, Brah. Fire." (So, take 2 grams of Fire and call you in the morning then?!)
But that's not the fault of the budtender, who's only trained in what knowledge the dispensary offers. Sommeliers get to go to France to try wines, visit with the growers, and learn about the terroir. Budtenders get some of the duff that gathers around the joint rolling trays, if they are lucky, and occasionally a sample edible. Be still my heart.
All eyes are on Oregon's cannabis industry and community at the moment, from our groundbreaking pesticide-testing standards, our craft cannabis cultivators, and our bafflin social consumption laws. But it's still the people in Oregon who make us a world-class leader in all manners of the plant, including the Portland powerhouse of cannabis knowledge and vision that is Emma Chasen. Emma is not here to fuck around, y'all. She's on a bona fide raise-the-roof mission, and later this month begins her budtender training programs.
At Portland's Farma Dispensary, Emma built the education and training program for budtenders that's still in use today. You might also recognize her as Willamette Week's Budtender of the Year in 2016. Or as co-founder with Alyssa Wildrick of Prismatic Paradigm, whose website eloquently frames their mission statement as "What is Your Good Medicine?" and "seeks to dismantle our capitalistic patriarchal society through herbal education, empowerment, community and healing workshops" (In these hallucinatory times, anything that seeks to dismantle our patriarchal society should be given our full attention and support.)
Chasen graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in medicinal plant research, and then coordinated 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 quickly decamped to Portland, Ore.
She recently shared that she "believes there is a great vacuum in the industry when it comes to cannabis science and education, specifically with the dispensary. I came from Farma, which is known for its scientific approach to cannabis and its focus on education. The owners informed that ethos and hired a highly intelligent, motivated staff. I think that the dispensaries should place value on training their budtenders, because these are the people that are simultaneously representing the industry (companies, products, etc.) and interfacing with customers who at times have serious medical concerns. For budtenders to have zero training on cannabis science and empathetic patient care is inexcusable. This is why it is my mission to take my budtender training program and offer courses to the community."
Beginning July 14, Chasen begins her "Budtender Bootcamp" series, joining forces with the Sativa Science Club to offer a comprehensive multi-week program that focuses on cannabis history, evolution, botany, biochemistry, physiology, product knowledge, empathetic patient care, best retail practices and compliance.
On July 29, Chasen will run a Cannabis Science workshop through Tokeativity that will be a three-hour-long workshop for women and non-binary people only. "This class will be a much broader overview of cannabis evolution and how cannabis affects us biochemically." she says. "I love the opportunity to empower women with science and to share in a safe space with people who may feel too intimidated to sign up for the full Budtender Bootcamp series.
By the way, if you have a budtender you love in Central Oregon, you have until Friday, July 7, to vote for them in the Source's Best Of contest! Look for the ballot in last week's issue, or vote online at BendSource.com