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From treating his epilepsy with weed as a teen, this 32-year-old is now a multimillionaire cannabis entrepreneur

CNBC logo CNBC 4/6/2019 Helen Zhao

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At the age of 14, Joshua Haupt woke up in an ambulance. He was supposed to be in school, but he had suffered a seizure at the breakfast table. Later that day, Haupt was diagnosed with epilepsy.

That diagnosis eventually led Haupt, now 32, down the path to become an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. Today, he's worth millions, including a 16 percent stake in Medicine Man Technologies worth about $9 million. He's also been called the "Steve Jobs of marijuana" in industry publications.

The nickname came from "having our hands involved in so many different spokes of the industry," the Denver resident tells CNBC Make It.

Haupt made his fortune after selling a cannabis guidebook company, Pono Publications, and marijuana nutrient line, Success Nutrients. In 2017, he sold both companies to cannabis consulting firm Medicine Man Technologies, for 7 million shares. Haupt personally owns 4.5 million shares in Medicine Man, according to SEC filings, which are currently worth about $9 million.

He also owns two cannabis grow facilities in Colorado that bring in over $10 million in revenue annually, Haupt said.

Joshua Haupt is the chief revenue officer at Medicine Man Technologies.

Joshua Haupt is the chief revenue officer at Medicine Man Technologies.
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The early days

In his late teens and early twenties, Haupt's family wasn't sure he was headed down the right path. While in high school, he began growing cannabis to help prevent his epileptic seizures. In Colorado, where he lives, medical marijuana has been legal for epileptics since 2000.

Haupt became determined to find an alternative remedy for his seizures after his epilepsy medication put him through side effects, including hair loss and weight gain, which took a toll on his confidence.

But at the time, medical marijuana usage was heavily frowned upon by the general public, Haupt said. "The attitude toward cannabis back then was very much keep it behind closed doors," he said. "Do not let anybody know about this."

Haupt wasn't worried about the stigma. He cared more about his health. "When I was about 22-years-old, I stepped into realizing that I can no longer continue running into these side effects, especially with the list that was coming, from liver failure to other things that you just don't want to deal with in life," he said.

Green thumb

Haupt grew up with a passion for gardening, so his family put him in charge of caring for their garden, he said. From there, he developed a natural knack for cultivating cannabis.

Haupt says his growing methods yield three times more cannabis than the average grower. He details his method in his $500 guidebook, "Three A Light." The title references three pounds of cannabis produced per grow light, which is used in indoor facilities to stimulate photosynthesis. While writing the book, Haupt also designed a nutrient line for growing cannabis, called Success Nutrients.

Currently, he's the chief revenue officer at Medicine Man Technologies, which acquired his companies.

The father-of-two says he is now seizure-free. At age 24, he replaced his epilepsy medication with CBD, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first drug containing CBD, to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

"You know we've come a long ways in the last decade with our society," Haupt said. "Before they were like, 'Josh is using cannabis for his epilepsy… That sounds like some kind of home remedy that is not going to work and he needs to be on his medication. This is not right.'"

But a decade later, things are different. Now, "they're saying, 'Buddy, we're sorry we ever doubted you.'"

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