I had the pleasure of interviewing Javier Hasse, a 28-year-old Latinx writer, author of the book, Start Your Own Cannabis Business. Paperback and digital versions were published via Entrepreneur Media and hit the “#1 Best Seller” spot for marijuana categories on Amazon. Javier is also a cannabis-focused reporter published on CNBC, Playboy, Entrepreneur Mag, High Times, Leafly, Benzinga, CNN Money, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, MSN Money, Morningstar, and many other mass media outlets; as well as a Billboard-topping artist featured in an album that includes big-name O.G. rappers — see the full story below.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?

It’s an interesting story. I was born in the U.S. but raised and educated (mostly) in Argentina, down at the very end of South America. When I finished my B.A. at age 22, I started writing for a few U.S.-based financial media outlets like InsiderMonkey, the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, the Motley Fool and SeekingAlpha, sometimes under my own name, and sometimes under pseudonyms. I focused on hedge funds, insider trading and research reports at the time.
The job was interesting and taught me a lot about finance and SEC regulations, but it was not especially fun. It did, however, allow me to travel around the world, so I got to live in very different places, ranging from Brazil and the U.S., to Italy and Germany.
One day, in 2014, an editor asked if I’d be willing to write an article about cannabis stocks and related plays. Afraid of the reputational and legal risk — weed was not nearly as mainstream back then, I asked if I could do it under a pen-name, but the answer was not positive.
I took courage and went for it anyways: I had always loved marijuana and felt it was a privilege to get paid to write about it — even if it was stocks I was talking about.
I got a lot of feedback from that particular piece. That got me really interested in the industry. It was a deep rabbit hole.
As time went by, I learned about the cannabis space, and saw my participation and coverage expand exponentially. I was attending events, visiting grow ops where weed grew beyond my eyesight, meeting rappers and athletes… My focus on cannabis business and finance gave me a unique edge over other reporters who had been writing about pot for years — if not decades, and knew a lot more than I did about buds, formulations and consumption methods.
Over the last four years, I’ve seen my work published on lifestyle media outlets like Playboy, High Times, Leafly and Civilized.life; Spanish-language magazines like Cañamo; and, for the most part, on finance-focused sites including MarketWatch, Benzinga, CNN Money, MSN Money, Morningstar, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur and even Fox Business — go figure!

Start Your Own Cannabis Business

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you got involved in the cannabis industry?

Being involved in such a nascent, rapidly evolving, friendly, collaborative industry brought a lot of exciting experiences and great connections. In the last year alone, I’ve had the honor of co-hosting a show about women in cannabis, Wonder Women of Weed, with the awesome Adelia Carillo; of co-producing Marijuana Money, Debra Borchard’s weekly segment highlighting the top financial and business news in the space; of keynoting at weed industry events; and even meeting some of my favorite rappers.
But, if I had to pick, I’d say one of the craziest stories of this year is that of how a strong-worded poem about cannabis legalization I wrote in the shower landed on eight different Bilboard charts, including the first place on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, #9 on Rap Charts, and #11 on Independent Charts.
To make a long story short, here are the basic points:
About a year ago, I was in the shower, thinking of the best way to get an interview with famed playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda; I wanted him to talk about medical marijuana. I knew it would be a hard feat, so I tried to get creative, coming up with a rendition of a rap about the Puerto Rico debt he had performed at “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”
Over a pretty long shower, I came up with the full poem and sent it to Lin-Manuel’s managers. While I never got that interview, I did like the lyrics I’d written, so I sometimes sang them while playing the guitar alone at home.
As luck would have it, I brought up the poem during a conversation with a friend — who happens to be a U.S. Senator too. His wife and him really liked the poem and said I should perform it later that night during a dinner cruise that was taking place in the context of a cannabis event.
Albeit a bit embarrassed by the whole situation, I decided to perform the poem anyways. There are only 300 people here, I thought. What’s the worst that can happen?
Yo, peers. Allow me to drop some “ritmo,”
To talk cannabis legalization.
Let me tell you about the Washingtons that could fund education.
We could create a lot of wealth for every state in our great Nation,
A multiple billion-dollar basis of new taxation.
As I finished that first verse, I saw emotion in people’s faces and got excited about it. I spat it all out.
I’m hoping to God Jeff Sessions’ tragic misinformation
Does not confuse the Congress, which needs to pass legislation,
Ending with fratricidal tax burdens on medication.
I care about the stoners, but this is really about the patients…
A few days after that performance, I got a call from Jonathan Hay, celebrity publicist and music producer. “I saw a video of your performance and was wondering if you’d like to be included in an album of mine that’s coming out next week. I can use the audio from the video, as is,” he said. “I’ve got my partner Mike Smith, from Smith & Hay in there, as well as Ranna Royce, Wu-Tang’s RZA & Inspectah Deck, Twista, Lil Windex, Riff Raff, Cyhi The Prynce, Faincarter, Compton’s Most Wanted’s MC Eiht, The Wake Up Show’s King Tech, Parliament-Funkadelic’s Jerome ‘Bigfoot’ Brailey, Iliana Eve, LX Xander, and Eminem’s artists Kxng Crooked and Conway.”
Of course I was in. Just a couple of weeks later, I woke up to a text from Jon informing me our album had hit eight different Billboard charts. Who would’ve known I even had that in me?
Anyways… If you’re interested in the whole track, check it out on Spotify or Apple Music.

What do you think makes you stand out? Can you share a story?

My job as a cannabis business reporter entails speaking with successful entrepreneurs and investors every day. So, I often ask them what it is that makes a person or company stand out. A few things that tend to come up are:
· A unique offering — whether that’s a product, service, or angle to what you do.
· A commitment to the cannabis movement and your community.
· Interest in causes that benefit real people, animals, places, etc.
· Good friends and partners.
· Good branding, marketing and messaging; social media and traditional media exposure are key to getting your message across.
· Knowledge of the cannabis industry, the plant, its derivatives and legislation around it in different places of the world — especially in those you operate in.
· A strong mission and vision for whatever your endeavor is. In other words, a clear idea of where you’re headed, what you want to achieve and why.
· Appropriate funding (which does not mean a lot of money, but it doesmean enough to make ends meet and things happen).
· Resilience, hard work and passion for what you do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

The list of people who’ve helped me get to where I am is endless. I never forget what people do for me, and, as I mentioned earlier, the cannabis industry is especially friendly to people with good intentions.
Having said this, I cannot start this list without mentioning my parents, friends and my couple.
Now, in the professional realm, the people at InsiderMonkey and Benzinga provided me with the first platforms to explore the industry and grow within it when nobody else was betting on me — or on legal weed.
Scott Greiper and Harrison Phillips at Viridian Capital Advisors saw beyond my regular (kind of boring) reporting and got me interested in exclusive, market moving data — which they shared before anyone else did. Firms like Canna Advisors, GreenWave Advisors, BDS Analytics, Headset, and Electrum Partners, among many others, followed suit.
Hugh Austin at SCN Corporate Connect taught me about the value of authentic relationships, and always gave more than he asked for in return.
High Times, Playboy and Leafly provided me with huge exposure and got me in front of the eyes of thousands of people, eventually helping me land a book deal at age 27. Actually, for the book deal, I have to credit Jenifer Dorsey, at Entrepreneur Media. She spotted me and got me on board. I always like to joke about that, saying “she’s Jen Dorsey: she endorsed me.”
Public relations agents like Neko Catanzaro and Cynthia Salarizadeh have consistently delivered great sources for my articles and facilitated introductions to many of the experts and celebrities I’ve interviewed.
Jodie Emery agreed to write a foreword for my book, even before meeting me, just because of how committed she is to advancing the cannabis industry.
Lucas Nosiglia has been crucial in getting me acquainted with every detail and quirk of the Latin American cannabis markets…
I could go on for ages. These are just a few examples.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I’m always working on exciting projects. It’s the cannabis industry!!! Follow me on Twitter (@JavierHasse) to get updates on my work and the progress of the cannabis industry and movement. Or find me on Instagram (@JavierHasse) if you enjoy film photography; I am a hoarder of portraits of random people I see on the streets.

Growing a Cannabis Business CBD

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

Things that excite me:
– The higher-than-normal number of women executives in the industry.
– The rapid advance of legalization in every continent, especially in America (the Americas).
– The marked surge in research around the cannabis plant, its potential, its multiple derivatives, and its clinical applications.
Things that concern me are:
– The lack of financing for women entrepreneurs.
– The exclusion of people of color, especially black people, from the business realm.
-The lack of clear regulations around medical cannabis and its derivatives in most places around the world.

Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.

I’ve gone into many of these things in my articles. I cannot pick five definitive items for this list, but I’d highlight:
– You need to be prepared to become not only an entrepreneur, operator or participant in the cannabis industry, but also an advocate for the movement, as well as an educator, when needed.
– You need to pay extremely close attention to laws and regulations and always remain compliant.
– In relation to the previous point, you should never save on lawyers and accountants. It’s never too early to hire these pros — and not doing so can cost you a lot not very far down the line.
– You need to always be creative and flexible; adapt constantly. Limitations for cannabis businesses abound. Everything, from getting financed to promoting your brand, will come with huge limitations; you’ll need to be smart and pragmatic to work around them.
– People love businesses and/or entrepreneurs who give back to their communities. Find a cause you can get behind and do so, consistently!

Growing a Cannabis Business CBD

In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does you cannabis passion come from?

Honestly, it’s a mixture of things. When writing the intro to my book, I came up with this description, which I think sums up my views pretty concisely:
This is an industry pierced by controversy, by social and racial issues, by strong economic interests. It [cannabis, and especially its legalization] impacts (almost always positively) healthcare, drug abuse and overdose figures, the number of opioid prescriptions, taxation, public finances, agriculture, the jobs market, real estate, criminal justice, gender inequality, the correctional system, the environment, the stock market. You name it; weed legalization will probably have some kind of effect on it.”

Start Your Own Cannabis Business

Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? Where do you see the cannabis industry going in the next 5 years?

I do not run a business at the time, but partake in many. In the U.S. and Canada, I focus solely on covering the industry, so I am only involved with media companies, as a contactor. I make no investments, take no positions in companies, and have no stake in U.S. or Canada businesses — beyond my own mission to advance the legalization cause.
In emerging markets, however, I am involved in some advisory boards for cannabis companies.
On a personal level, there’s a project I hold very close to my heart: my own business for Latin America and Spain. Keep tuned in; counting with our seed money, we’re ready to debut in Q4 of 2018!
I believe the cannabis industry will continue to progress steadily as public acceptance and education around marijuana grows, and as legalization sweeps through the world. An interviewee once told me, “The genie is out of the proverbial bottle.” I could not put it more clearly.

Growing a Cannabis Business CBD

Are you able to identify any rising stars at your company or in your industry that people need to keep an eye on?

So many! As a nascent industry, most stars are still on the rise. Beyond the long time advocates like Snoop Dogg, Steve DeAngelo, Marc Emery or Keith Stroup, everyone else is relatively a newcomer, with most people having entered the legal cannabis industry in the last five yeas — although some have been in it for a couple of decades. It should also be noted that some people have been working with cannabis for their entire lives, albeit illegally.
I would name a few people I like personally, but would rather not, as I would not like to leave anyone out or highlight any particular people. Diverse publications like High Times or Entrepreneur, have published (or will soon) lists of the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry. I’d say that’s a good place to start.

What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?

This is a widely discussed topic. Money flows suggest the hottest subsectors of the industry are agricultural technology (AgTech), real estate and software and media. Hemp is also really hot, especially after the recent approval of the new Farm Bill, which basically legalizes hemp cultivation, processing and trade.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Without intentions to brag, my work provides me with the opportunity to talk with almost anyone I want to reach. I’ve tried, however, to set up a few meetings without success. These are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and the Chelsea Peretti-Andy Samberg du. These are the people I have not managed to get to share a drink with me despite reaching out….
Some people I have not tried but would LOVE to talk to include Barack Obama, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Justin Trudeau, Dave Chapelle, Rhianna, Sara Silverman, Woody Harrelson, Terry Crews, Joey Bada$$, Billie Joe Armstrong, Donald Trump and, of course, Bojack Horseman — not Will Arnett, but Bojack.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!