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Real Cannabis Stories

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Meet Grant: Sr. Account Manager @ PotGuide

“After supporting the Department of Defense through staffing government contracts with Apex Systems and bouncing around the private sector, the Denver Post recruited me as an advertising Account executive. They wanted me to sell casino advertisements, and I was wondering why they didn’t allow dispensaries to advertise. The boss was originally skeptical, but quickly realized the potential. We found a huge niche in cannabis.

I was then recruited to work for Massroots as a sales executive. After that, I was recruited to work for PotGuide and I’ve been loving every minute of it! I’ve never grown it, extracted it, or sold it… I just help my people get their product out.”

How has it been working in the cannabis industry?

“It’s like being a host of a party, work to make sure everyone has what they need to enjoy themselves responsibly, but you’re constantly keeping up with what is coming next. You have Highs and lows. Businesses are booming, our advertisers are growing, and at the end of the day we’re working in cannabis. You have a unique culture, however, like any business, you still have learning curves and obstacles. Bringing in professionals that understand the complicated regulations and compliances necessary to scale a business professionally through marketing has been difficult.  But people are quickly seeing that it is necessary, especially as consolidation is taking place..

Coming from the staffing industry where things are completely organized, it’s been a challenge showing people the seriousness of the industry. It’s like being the host of a party.. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s rewarding”

What does the future look like for you?

“I’m definitely going to be here for the long run. I found my call in advertising, and really found my call with cannabis advertising.”

 

Last thoughts?

“The stereotype that you’ve been raised with, throw that right out the window. The industry is evolved, there’s fine tuned businesses, and people understand what works. This is something new, but we’re doing as much as we can to perfect it. Take all the skills you know, but be humble enough to learn from the people in the business and learn from their true pain points”

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“PotGuide is a comprehensive website that reaches nearly a million travelers each month looking for where to buy, where to stay, and what do. We can help any consumer facing business in the industry reach an untapped and incredibly targeted demographic right in the middle of their decision making.”
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Meet Javier: Cannabis-focused financial Journalist @ Benzinga

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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Thanks for being part of the #PeopleOfParagon campaign- Ending the stigma one person at a time!!

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Meet Broc: Brand Ambassador @ Bloom Farms

My name is Broc James Moran, I’m 27 years old and I’m originally from Chicago,Illinois and I work as a Brand Ambassador for a company called ‘Bloom Farms’. —

 

How did you get involved? how has the transition and overall experience been?

 

So to start by saying I honestly never thought that I would be working in the cannabis industry. It was knowing someone within the industry that led me to this opportunity: my roommate.I’ve always been intrigued by cannabis culture so when she told me their was a position open at her company Bloom Farms I decided to jump on the chance. I was actually planning on moving back to Chicago where I’m from to attend school but I figured this opportunity would be more fulfilling as I was just going to continue my education with no real plan afterwards.

Transitioning into this business has actually been really awesome because I’m actually getting a free education into a business that’s really booming right now and something I’m seriously interested in. Bloom Farms has supplied me with the tools I need to educate others in the business and they even paid for my online courses at THC University.If you’re not familiar with Bloom Farms they’re an awesome one-for-one company based in the Bay area. Specializing in making vape pens they also give back in the form of donated meals to families in need.They’ve also given me useful tools to use in my everyday life and a new viewpoint in the world of cannabis.

 

1.Did you ever have stigma against the industry?

 

It’s funny you ask this because I actually have had a stigma against this industry and culture at one point in my life. Picture it, New Years 2007; sitting in the back of a white 1994 Pontiac with a couple of homies. We’ve been drinking more than likely bottom shelf rubbing alcohol so what better way to enjoy the night than to smoke. Now I had never actually smoked before, and the times I tried I could never fully inhale. So I played it off as if I’d been smoking since child birth. My best friend was in the front seat lights a joint and starts passing it around the car. Since I was directly behind him I was last in the rotation and didn’t realize how short the joint had gotten. I went to go take a hit and I put the side that was lit right on my lips and burned the sh*t out of my bottom lip. I screamed so loud and reached for the door handle, and ran out while everyone laughed at me.

For a good week in a half, I had to walk around with this welt on my bottom lip and everyone kept asking me if I had gotten into a fight or if I had a herpes infection. Neither true. So I swore off marijuana for years after that. I didn’t smoke again until I was 20 years old. It wasn’t even the marijuanas fault, but in my mind I kept playing back all those speeches I heard in the D.A.R.E program and thought those teachers were right ! I’m 27 now and have a completely different outlook on marijuana now but that was the one and only time I’ve ever had a negative stigma against the industry.

 

  1. Past: What is your professional background? Why did you decide to look into the industry?

 

Honestly, when it comes to my background I wouldn’t consider it professional at all. I’m the Los Angeles hustle personified. Three jobs and I still am able to maintain a social life. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Bloom Farms is currently my part-time job but the one I’m most involved in. I also work as a server with dreams of becoming a Comedian. I decided to look into this industry because I saw it as an outlet to where I could discover another culture  that I only knew about from what the media spewed. It’s been a real interesting journey meeting people and patients within the cannabis industry. Everyone has a story to tell from a person whose dog was dying until they gave them CBD oil to the old lady who smokes because it helps with her arthritis. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to interact with these people and look at the cannabis industry through a medical lens.

 

  1. What do you think the future looks like for the industry?

 

Amidst all the Jeff Sessions’ talk and our new government administration I do see a bright future in the cannabis industry. People are getting turned on and educating themselves more on the medical benefits of THC. It’s becoming almost a superior alternative, I even use CBD myself to help combat any oncoming ailments myself. If you walk into a collective they’ll usually carry CBD topicals, THCA oil tinctures and other forms of cannabanoid medicine. I think; but I also hope that this industry could one day be more beneficial and helpful than Big Pharma.

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Meet Lance: Director of Media Operations @ Weedmaps + Publisher @ Marijuana.com

“How I got into the industry is pretty interesting. I’ve been in the digital media space since the mid-2000’s. Eight of those years were centric to the publisher industry. I was hired on to The Denver Post just as they were launching The Cannabist in 2014. Being the director of digital ad operations, I worked on The Cannabist behind the scenes. The management team could tell how much I liked that category, so I segued to a GM position over it. Not too long later Weedmaps came knocking, and the rest is history. 

Growing up in The Bay (SF), I was always around the culture, but actually studied criminal justice in college. Who would have thought I would be doing this now though?!”
-Lance
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‘First Public University Medical Marijuana Course In The Nation’ Offered In California By The Same University That Kicked Me Out Of Their Dorms For a Gram Of Weed

Cannabis was legalized for medicinal use over 20 years ago, and last November we finally voted on the legalization of recreational, “adult” use. This was a major turning point for the industry! Such a turning point, that my alma mater Sonoma State University partnered with United Patients Group to offer a 1 day course titled Medical Cannabis: A Clinical Focus.

“United Patients Group, a medical cannabis education organization, and Sonoma State University are teaming up to offer what they say is the first medical cannabis course from a major public university in the country.

The course marks a watershed moment in medical education and the nation’s rapidly evolving acceptance of marijuana, according to UPG and Sonoma State.” – [Toke Signals]

This course was today, but I’m sure it will be the first of many to come!

upg-flyer-for-sonoma-state-course-sh-page-001-2-768x9945 years ago…
Things were different.
Still the same Sonoma State University in the middle of the Emerald Triangle,
but things were different.

It was the end of the first month of my freshman year at Sonoma State. I was going from class to the gym to rush events hoping to get a bid from Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Almost everyone was on probation after drinking to much the first few weeks, but not me. I kept out of trouble and focused on my goals. One day after the last Rush event, I invited a few of my future pledge brothers back to my dorm. We decided to smoke, and then hung out for about 20 minutes. As we were leaving to go get food, the worst possible situation occurred: My fire alarm went off..

We didn’t know why because it had been some time since we had smoked, but we had to make a decision quick. I knew everyone else was on probation so I told everyone to run and I would take the blame. I figured  that I would be given the same probation sentence for cannabis as my friends had received for alcohol…
I was wrong

I admitted to having one gram of medical cannabis, and was immediately kicked out of the dorms. No probation. No second chance. No refund from the dorms. Nothing.  It’s crazy that a harmless plant was the cause for such drastic changes in my educational path.

I think education is the most important thing, and I live by the quote “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I hope more Universities “grow up” and realize the true benefits of this plant. The medicinal and economic benefits are INSANE…
But you knew that 😉

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How I applied for a job in the cannabis industry, and got an investment in a business I hadn’t started instead

If you looked at my social media a year ago, you would have never guessed I had anything to do with cannabis. The truth was that I was involved in the industry, but I never thought it was “socially acceptable”. Instead, I portrayed a more “normal” life.

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8 months ago while I was working in corporate america, I finally decided it was time to get off the side lines. I kept seeing articles on “The Green Rush” and realized I was missing out on a huge opportunity. I felt like I knew the basics of cannabis, but I didn’t know how to bridge my professional skills into the legal cannabis industry.

I started looking on every job site I could find– from Linkedin to Craigslist to every “Weedjobs” variation you could think of… But I wasn’t getting anywhere.



I didn’t want to publicly display that I was “Looking for a cannabis opportunity” on my Linkedin, and I felt like it  was ridiculous how much time it took just to find a few quality job openings. When I finally found a few  job openings that appealed to me, I realized I had no idea what was “okay” to list on my resume.


I ended up applying to “The Arcview” group for a business development role. Instead of waiting for a response, I found the CEO, Troy Dayton, on Linkedin and messaged him with my interest. To my surprise,  I was interviewed right away, and thought things went well. I expressed how I felt there were certain gaps that needed to be filled in the industry, and made it clear I planned on starting my own company in the future.

Shortly after the interview, I received an email from Patrick Rea, CEO of Canopy,  asking to learn more about my “cannabis business idea”. After a few phone calls with Patrick, the general Idea was given the green light. I was given 3 weeks to pack my bags, build my team, and move up to Berkeley…


That is how Paragon was born.