As a teenager, Emily Paxhia was a staunch anti-drug advocate who believed wholeheartedly that cannabis was a gateway drug. That was before both of her parents were stricken with cancer. It was then that Emily and her brother Morgan learned firsthand about the medicinal benefits of cannabis via a nurse. As a result, her deeply ingrained convictions about cannabis dissipated and in 2013, the Paxhia sibling duo teamed up to form Poseidon Asset Management, a cannabis investment firm based in San Francisco. Since then, the firm, in which Emily serves as a managing partner, has become one of the most successful venture capital firms in the space; currently, it manages over $105 million in assets. Among their wide-ranging investments include notable cannabis retail platform Flowhub and Confident Cannabis,  an online platform for cannabis wholesale trading and lab testing.

Recently, Emily discussed her fascinating career trajectory and Poseidon’s investment strategy as well as the challenges of being a woman in a male-predominated industry.

Iris Dorbian: So how does someone with a psychology degree end up as an investor in this wild and woolly space?

Emily Paxhia: Psychology is absolutely integral to an investment position. So much of investing is about how people think and feel about the market they’re participating in or the companies they’re investing in or their perceptions around the entire concept. For example, when we launched our fund, it was quite a contrarian fund. People thought we were crazy to get into this space. What we knew we had to do was to change perceptions about the industry.

Dorbian: But you weren’t always a champion of cannabis? You were in the D.A.R.E program as a teenager.

Paxhia: Yes. When you’re a teenager and Nancy Reagan was on the TV growing up and they were cracking an egg on the frying pan and saying this is your brain on drugs, it was very heavy-handed. ..

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