Digital marketing agency 420MEDIA and the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) have joined forces to create a series highlighting entrepreneurs trailblazing the cannabis scene. Each week, we’ll profile a noteworthy business pioneer, and ask each 5 questions.
This week’s featured trailblazer is Javier Hasse, a young, Latin writer, author of the book, “Start Your Own Cannabis Business” (Entrepreneur Press 2018), which hit the “#1 Best Seller” spot for cannabis categories on Amazon during the week of its release. Javier writes for a variety of mass media outlets, serves as the Director of Benzinga’s Cannabis News desk, hosts the show “Wonder Women of Weed,” sits on advisory boards for cannabis companies in emerging markets, and co-produces Debra Borchardt’s “Marijuana Money” weekly segment, which has been syndicated on Benzinga, High Times TV, MSN, Yahoo, etc.
1. Tell us about your book?
The story of how I got a book deal at age 27 is one I love, because it proves that karma (or however you want to call the world balancing itself) is a real thing. It was mid-2017 and I had been writing about cannabis business and finance for a few years. One day, I got a call from Jenifer Dorsey, at Entrepreneur Media. She said she’d seen some of my stories on High Times, Benzinga, Leafly and Playboy, and thought I’d make a great fit to author a book on cannabis business they were looking to publish by 4/20/2018.
At first, I was a bit hesitant. I asked her: “Do you know I’m 27, I have never written a book, and don’t even speak English as a first language?”
She didn’t have an issue with that; she had seen my work across the media and was willing to take a chance. About this ordeal, I like to say: Jen Dorsey, she endorsed me. Entrepreneur Media supported me.
And so, we went for it.
Over the 60 days that followed, I interviewed more than 100 cannabis industry insiders and investors, and asked them for business advice.
I then compiled all of their tips and came up with this book, a step-by-step guide to the marijuana industry, as the title very clearly states – no euphemisms for this guy. My only condition was that this had to be a book for regular people, for those who had paid the price of marijuana’s illegality for so long. I wanted this to be a financial-inclusion-through-cannabis guide, instead of the usual advice for the Harvard MBA or Yale grad, the people who had been told they could start their own business from the day they learned how to speak.
Once we had the entire book ready to go, we sent it to the amazing Jodie Emery, famed cannabis activist, current owner of Toronto’s own hemp-themed café, Jodie’s Joint, and an esteemed friend of mine by now.
So, this is what we came up with: “Start Your Own Cannabis Business: Your Step-By-Step Guide to The Marijuana Industry.” A book aimed at those who don’t have easy access to a million bucks of startup capital, to those who don’t hold a $300K graduate degree, to those who deserve a chance in this nascent industry, which likes to take pride in how inclusive it is, while often excluding those hit hardest by the infamous War on Drugs.
2. Why did you choose the cannabis/hemp business as your beat?
Honestly, cannabis and hemp kind of found me. I was writing about finance a few years ago, focusing on hedge funds and insider trading, when an editor asked me if I was willing to author a story on cannabis stocks and derivative plays. This might sound pretty standard nowadays, but signing a story about weed half a decade ago was something that most young journalists getting a chance to write for The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch were not willing to take.
The thing is, I had loved cannabis for a decade by that time… And so, I took it. Why not? – I thought. Someone was willing to pay me to write about weed… That was not an opportunity I was going to pass on, notwithstanding the reputational risk involved.
Since that moment, things sort of snowballed. I got assigned to more pot stories, that led me to exclusives, to meet more people in the industry, to specialize, to get published in more and more outlets, to teach other people about this amazing industry, to get them on board… This is my life now. And I wouldn’t change a freaking thing
3. What will the cannabis industry look in a few years? How will the legalization shape the industry?
We’re seeing the world, and not just the U.S., move in the right direction, I think. The future is already being molded, in my opinion. We’re seeing a lot of new cannabis businesses emerge, many of them succeeding, some failing…and a lot of them being acquired by larger players. This wave of consolidation will continue for the foreseeable future, I’d say.
I like an analogy that musician David Crosby used during a recent conversation we had: half a decade ago, there were dozens of American car makers; now, there are just a few big brands dominating the market. We should expect the same to happen with the cannabis industry on a global scale.
Another interesting trend is that of the increasing number of investments from big companies from other industries. As legalization and public acceptance of cannabis advances across the world, huge corporations like alcohol-maker Constellation Brands, will make larger and larger investments into cannabis companies, eventually taking control over some of them – as Altria, the maker of Marlboro, said recently.
It is our duty to make sure that, no matter where the industry goes, we keep in mind that patients’ wellbeing is the #1 priority, and that taking care of the world we live in is equally important. Thus, we need to ensure good practices, and an emphasis on the production of clean, accessible, affordable cannabis products.
4. What has been the reaction to your new book? Are we seeing a boom in new entrepreneurs?
I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to write this book, which I hope is the first of many. We’ve seen a boom in entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, but I would never take credit for that… It’s only natural.
The response to the book, however, has been overwhelming. Tons of fan mail, messages, people thanking us for guiding them… It’s also opened a lot of doors for me personally, as it led to frequent invitations to keynote at cannabis and entrepreneurship events, TV and radio interviews, etc. But beware, the reason for which I enjoy this is not related to ego, or a need for attention. To me, what’s valuable is bringing knowledge about cannabis and its medical, economic, and social justice potential to the mainstream; to help the world understand that we need to overcome taboos and act in pragmatic, sensible, sensitive manner in all weed-related issues going forward.
Where can readers learn more about your writing?
I have had more than 4,500 articles published on Playboy, CNBC, High Times, TheStreet.com, Entrepreneur Mag, Leafly, Benzinga, CNN Money, CNN Business, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, MSN Money, Morningstar, Nasdaq, Dope Magazine, Merry Jane, The Fresh Toast, Apple News, and many others.
You can follow me on:
Or just Google me. You’ll find just one Javier Hasse.