Cannabis has hit the Portland airwaves.
This Is Cannabis is the latest addition to XRAY's Thursday evening lineup, making it the first FM radio show in Portland devoted entirely to weed. Hosted by Lee Henderson of HiFi Farmsand cannabis science educator Emma Chasen, the premise is straightforward: Henderson and Chasen welcome different guests each week, discussing their place in the industry and what challenges they face. They touch on various of-the-moment topics in a sort of state of cannabis report from guests like activist and chef Aminah Leary and cannabis lawyer Amy Margolis, founder of female entrepreneurial incubator the Initiative.
As a cannabis science phenom and Brown University graduate of plant medicine science, Chasen inevitably clears up a botanical myth or two each episode, like the inaccurate categorization of indica versus sativa strains. None of that is particularly revelatory—smart cannabis discussions with real scientists are par for the course in our state's sophisticated cannabis scene. But what truly makes This Is Cannabis important listening is when the lab coats come off and frank, open conversations about controversial and lesser-known issues begin.
In the first episode of the show, aired in July, Chasen addresses an elephant in the room no one in the industry likes drawing attention to: the 2015 incident in which a college student jumped off a four-story Denver hotel balcony after eating a cannabis-infused edible he'd bought at a dispensary. Chasen points out there is still no lethal dosage for cannabis, noting that "the cannabis didn't kill him. It was the incredibly psychotropic experience that drove him to take his own life."
Chasen, who's been interviewed countless times by local pot industry podcasts and quoted in numerous publications from Broccoli magazine to Newsweek, sees This Is Cannabis as a time she gets to be herself.
"I get to be more personal here," she says. "I get to talk about other things I'm passionate about, like the overprescription of anxiety and ADD medication, and the interesting gender split of diagnoses. This is the bright spot of my week."
The first time Chasen and Henderson hosted something, they put together a budtender education workshop. But something was missing. "It was packed, but not with budtenders," laughs Henderson. "I wasn't able to get the audience for which it was made." It was then that Henderson realized a general-interest, conversational approach could be just what a science-based cannabis show needed to be more accessible.
He was right.
In the first episode, Leary talks about working as a budtender at Farma, lamenting that customers treat her like a doctor responsible for their perfect experience.
"We are not doctors," she emphasizes. "We can help guide you––if you're open to asking questions––but if you come in and ask for something your friend had, I don't know if it's going to feel the same for you."
The "recommendation segment" at the end of each show isn't the expected product suggestions and endorsements for something to smoke. Instead, everyone talks freely about what they've been into lately. In the first episode, Henderson talks about looking back at Anthony Bourdain's writings. During the show with Amy Margolis, Margolis mentions reading the sci-fi novel The Power by Naomi Alderman, in which women have the power to shock men electrically with their hands. Chasen recommends seeing queer-pop singer Jame perform at the Firkin Tavern, and then everyone starts talking heatedly about the HBO series Succession.
They taped their eighth show this past week, with guest Peggy Anderson of Canna Help You, a company that connects seniors in retirement homes to products that can help them. Future guests on the docket include Farma founder Jeremy Plumb, as well as Mowgli Holmes of Phylos Bioscience, the company responsible for the first genetic map of cannabis.
For hosts Chasen and Henderson, This Is Cannabis is not only a social outlet, but their way to do something for the industry.
"I love podcasts. I love journalism. We want to reach a broad audience," Henderson says. "Put out good, factual information about cannabis that cuts through all the misinformation. Ask and answer questions like: What determines quality? How should you shop? What goes on behind the counter?"