Javier Hasse is a cannabis-focused financial writer who gets published periodically on sites like Benzinga – where he works as a Staff Writer & Content Strategist, Yahoo! Finance, CNN Money, Leafly, MarketWatch, and many other mass media outlets. Isn’t that cool? He literally gets to write about one of the hottest topics in the news!
We decided to flip the script on this one, and interview Javier for a change. Here’s what he had to say:
Did you ever have a negative stigma against cannabis?
Javier: Well not really. I’m from a generation (27) where there’s no big stigma with cannabis. I just never considered this could be my work.
In fact, every time I travel people ask me what I do. When I tell them that I write about cannabis, they tend to say “How is that a job?!”
Well, it is. It became a job. It has become a legitimate and large industry. A profitable industry, by the way.
How did you initially transition into the industry? Did someone ask you to write an article, or was it something you pursued on your own?
Javier: A few years ago I was writing for a site called Insider Monkey. We focused on hedge funds and insider transactions. So, by the time I was 23 I had articles published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch.
I liked writing about Warren Buffett and other famed investors, but I couldn’t see myself doing that for my whole life.
At one point a great guy I knew, just a great editor, offered me a job at Benzinga. They worked in financial news and had a service similar to Bloomberg’s terminal: very fast, up to the minute updates.
I began writing about finance and hedge funds, until I realized I loved biotechnology; you know, advancements in life sciences, small-cap companies developing cures for different diseases and syndromes… I mean, a lot of things that big pharma didn’t have incentive for. I started interviewing people in the space.
One day, I saw Benzinga was publishing articles on cannabis like, “14 Cannabis Stocks To Watch In 2014.” I thought it was interesting.
When did cannabis arrive on Wall Steet?
We’re covering billion dollar companies, investments, hedge funds, and suddenly… there’s weed. It’s surprising; it’s not something that we’re used to. So I started looking into it, got informed, and found that people in the industry were really willing to talk, share their ideas, and advance the cause of cannabis as a great way to replace medications that are not only highly addictive but very expensive. Legalization is a way to generate billions of tax revenue, reduce the amount of people in jail, generate new jobs, treat health issues…
Most people were writing about “the best strains” and stuff like that, so suddenly, I found my articles on financial platforms because the angle was quite unique.
It was kind of a tough choice. I was wondering, “Will this have negative consequences?”
But, I’m committed to the cause, I really believe that legalization can help with a lot of issues. Of course, it could generate problems, but it’s here to stay. Whether it’s recreational or medical, it’s here to stay. There will always be media outlets that will pick cannabis articles up.
Do you have any advice for someone that’s looking into the industry that doesn’t have cannabis industry experience? Do you have to start as a trimmer?
Javier: Well, there are no formulas. What may work for one person, might not work for another.
Having said this, I would say, if you want to be a trimmer, go be a trimmer. But, the world is not how it used to be where you got a job as a mailroom boy, and 10 years later you were the chief editor of the newspaper. The world is moving towards specialization. Define your interests and find your niche. Don’t be afraid to look into this industry. The people are great and they really want to attract good talent.
Blues Traveller’s drummer Brendan Hill once told me that cannabis brings people together. He definitely had a point.
There’s something about the industry where everyone enjoys what they’re doing. They have their eyes on the bottom line, but it’s really a double bottom line because everyone has the objective of doing something good for mankind.
There is a “Chill” side of the cannabis industry, but there is also a very serious business side of the industry. It’s a real industry, and only 12.3% of cannabis sales are legal. Even with such a small percentage going through legal channels, there are over 25,000 thriving cannabis businesses.
If you look at Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, they produced about half a billion dollars in taxes throughout 2016. That’s enough to build 28 elementary schools; enough to feed over 5 billion people.
There’s real value here. Tax revenue is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2020. There’s substance to it, and there’s data to back things up.
Thanks for being part of the #PeopleOfParagon campaign- Ending the stigma one person at a time!!