By Christina Vargas
Drea Chavez owns Hella Good Cannabis, based in Hayward. She founded it in January 2014, while she was still a student at LPC. Beginning with word of mouth networking to build company awareness, she promotes and organizes events for cannabis companies at trade shows like HempCon, Emerald Cup and High Times.
As a woman in this newly emerging industry, Chavez has faced steroetypes. Women who work at these trade shows are usually only there for provocative purposes. Being required to dress intriguingly or they will not land the gig.
“The women who are working the booths are in bikinis, or they are nearly naked because they are going for the cheap thrill,” Chavez said. “I go to the booths. I do not dress in bikinis. I wear regular clothes.”
In the cannabis industry, the primary way of advertising is through these shows. Growers and clubs reach out to Chavez due to Proposition 64 — specifically chapter 15, which includes advertising and marketing restrictions that make it illegal to advertise or market to an audience unless 71.6 percent of the audience is over the age of 21.
The legalization of marijuana at the beginning of this year has both helped and hurt Chavez with her business. How has it helped?
“There are people that I would have never thought used cannabis,” she said, “and now that it’s legal they are all coming out of the woodwork. So that helped. There is not the stigma about cannabis anymore.”
How has it hurt? The difficulty of acquiring necessary permits can be daunting.
“I feel like they (government entities) are just throwing numbers out there,” Chavez said, “and saying, ‘If you want to operate, you need to pay this number.’ It’s been good and bad. It’s in this grey area right now, and all sides are pushing.”
Las Positas has helped set Chavez apart in the male-dominated cannabis industry. She came to the college as a marketing major and then switched to public relations before transferring to San Jose State in 2015.
As a junior transfer and owner of her company, working 40 hours a week, she had difficulty trying to adjust to the new college life. But she was equipped by LPC.
“Things that I was doing in class as far as mass media, you are trying to gain awareness,” she said. “You have to use video. You have to be able to write, make flyers. I do all that. Make graphic designs. These are all things I learned in the mass communication classes. And it actually helped me step my game up.”
Chavez graduated from SJSU this month. As she moves forward, she hopes to focus even more of her time and skill on nurturing her growing business.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Catching up with alumni and seeing how they are making their marks
Martin Gallegos started as a part-time high school sports writer for the San Jose Mercury News, part of the Bay Area News Group. He quickly worked his way up, taking reporting positions that covered various college and pro sports around the Bay Area.
Gallegos spent the end of the 2017 baseball season covering all the Oakland Athletics home games, which led to him being hired full-time at the Athletics beat writer for the Bay Area News Group.
One very familiar, successful alumna of Las Positas College is local news anchor KTVU’s Gasia Mikaelian. She attended LPC in the 90s and completed two years while discovering her love for journalism. After she left LPC, Mikaelian transferred to San Diego State University, where she continued perfecting her craft. She then worked out of state as a journalist.
Mikaelian has worked for KTVU since 2005. She is especially happy to work in the Bay Area, where she grew up.
George Retelas loves teaching new media, capturing stories, writing for the screen and taking photographs. Retelas, an alumnus of LPC, obtained two communications degrees, an M.S. from San Jose State and a B.A. from Cal State Stanislaus.
After finding his grandfather’s war journals, Retelas created a WWll documentary, “Eleven.” He won Best of the Fest Documentary for “Eleven” at the Livermore Film Festival in 2016.
Broadcasting since he was in his early 20s, David Lewis started as a DJ. He worked as a DJ through his early 30s. He then switched to news at KCBS Radio and did play-by-play at Santa Clara University.
Lewis went to school locally, graduating with a 3.9 GPA from LPC and CSUEB. Currently, Lewis is a sports anchor and reporter for NBC News Radio, where he covers national reports. He also anchors for stations in Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C., and New York.