When it comes to hubs for sound financial advice, checking the Decibel site is about on par with rifling through some hesher's battle jacket. But that's because we're usually not talking to people like Jeff Siegel.
Siegel spent years playing with the Bungle-esque Dog Fashion Disco, manning keyboards on stage at night and typing out newsletters for a financial publishing company in the morning. Now he runs Green Chip Stocks, which focuses on investments in renewable energy and marijuana.
I, of course, have all my capital tied up in tiny novelty guitars, but for any of you money-minded future Warren Buffets or Lars Ulriches, Siegel discussed how he got into this line of work and why you should start investing in the sweet, sweet leaf:
How did you start focusing on the green market?
Investment publishing is really fucking boring. Apparently I'm pretty good at investing -- it's not really rocket science -- but I didn't want to do this for the rest of my life. So the company I worked for let me write about whatever I wanted as long as it still had an investment angle. I had always been kind of a treehugger so I decided to write about renewable energy, organic food, all this hippie shit. And like six months later it was the top-selling newsletter of the company. Then in 2005 I started Green Chip Stocks.
What did you find appealing about investing in marijuana?
My focus has always been about socially-responsible investing. I can invest in a company that is making the world a better place and that is good from an economic standpoint and from a moral standpoint. I'm not really a huge user, but I'm very anti-drug war. The amount of people killed and the money that's been spent is disgusting to me. And I feel like investing in cannabis companies will help facilitate the end of the drug war. There are a lot of sick people who can benefit from access to cannabis -- military guys with PTSD, kids who have epilepsy. Loving metal and punk and hardcore, I've never been one to shy away from authority figures, and what a great way to make money and fight prohibition.
What is the weed market like nowadays?
There were hundreds of cannabis companies four or five years ago. And these stocks were just flying, going up 1000%. I was doing research and 99% of the companies were bullshit, scam penny stocks. (Ed. note: I know what penny stocks are from this Wolf of Wall Street clip) When the market kind of crashed, most of the fly-by-night operations and scams disappeared. So now what you're left with are the legitimate companies really trying to take advantage of legalization in various states like California and actually generate revenue. Canada for me has been a really great market. When their new Prime Minister came out and said it was going to be legal in the country, every stock I owned in the Canadian cannabis space doubled in like a week. So if you want to invest in cannabis, Canada is pretty much a lock at this point. Next year it will be legal on a recreational level across the entire country.
How does a big idiot like myself get into this?
For any investment, you have to do your own research. Read analysis, Google "Cannabis investing" and learn the business. Learn what's at play. People will put all this time into learning about a TV they want to buy and then they'll go just spend money on a "hot tip." Look at the companies that actually make money. Don't just pick some random company. This is not for millionaires and it's not nearly as complicated as people make it out to be. If it were I wouldn't be doing it. (Ed. note: Here are Siegel's 3 Rules for Investing in Cannabis.)
As someone who is both good with money and has toured extensively, any financial tips for bands in vans?
Hoard that money like a fucking squirrel. Make sure your van is in good shape. Sleep in the van. Sleep at people's houses. Go to the store and buy cans of tuna, peanut butter and bread. And if you get to a club and they offer to buy you food get shit that you can put in a cooler and take with you: bread, a deli tray, bottles of water. Then when you're off the road get temp work and work your ass off. And if you go on the road, and think that you should be making money every night, you should find a different job.