At Say Hi and Hi&Low, we truly believe that as the cannabis industry grows, we can incorporate positive business practices and set an example for other industries. And so some of the most important values at Say Hi are diversity and inclusivity, which we try to capture in everything from the products on the site, to the audience we write for, to our partners behind the scenes.
June is Pride Month, a time of year to highlight the accomplishments of the LGBT community. We talked to a few of our collaborators and partners, who shared some of the stories and insights from their experiences as LGBT members of the cannabis industry. In the first of the series, we talk to Emma Chasen, a fearless pioneer merging cannabis with science and business.
Tell us a little about what you do in the cannabis industry.
I am a cannabis educator & consultant. I help cannabis companies develop educational marketing collateral and educational programs both internally and for the community. Really, I see my role as someone who is able to translate scientific jargon about cannabis into meaningful, accessible information for both lay enthusiasts andindustry professionals.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as an LGBT person in the industry? Are there any good learnings you’ve taken from those experiences?
I feel lucky to live in Portland, a city that is known for being queer. I think the biggest challenge for me, as a femme presenting person, is that people always assume I’m straight. That assumption doesn’t bother me most of the time, however I’m currently in a relationship with a woman so there’s this weird process of having to frequently ‘come out’. Because I am a fluid person and have had relationships with both men and women, the professional ‘coming out’ is even more complicated. I’ve had people in this industry say to me, “oh you’re not really that gay” just because I like both men and women. That’s weird and also not specific to the cannabis industry. Femme invisibility is a real thing.
What has been an opportunity, or just something you’ve loved about being an LGBT person in the industry?
Connecting with other queer people in this industry is always exciting. The cannabis industry is dominated by white men and there are not many female-identifying people, let alone female-identifying queer people. They’re like unicorns, and when I find them I can’t help but get excited.
Do you think that being LGBT helped to equip you for a career in cannabis?
Both cannabis & the LGBT community have faced systemic, harsh stigma from mainstream culture. Only now are both movements becoming trendy. As someone who has been a part of the LGBT & cannabis communities for a while, there is a strong pride that comes with being a part of something on the fringe; something that needs to be constantly defended. The strength & resilience I have from being a part of these communities when they were ostracized is something that has helped me weather the tough times in the cannabis industry.
Thanks to Emma for talking about her inspiring experience. If you want to share your story, leave a message on our Facebook page.