Oaksterdam University counts 80,000 alumni in 110+ countries among our ranks of cannabis success stories. Writer A.J. Herrington, well known for his articles in top cannabis publications, is among them.
A.J. Herrington is among the top cannabis journalists in the field, writing daily for publications like High Times, Forbes and CannabisNow. He credits landing his first assignment thanks to Oaksterdam University.
“When I pitched my first story to High Times, I mentioned I was an Oaksterdam graduate. It obviously didn’t hurt,” A.J. says.
A career in cannabis
After years of working in retail, A.J. became interested in entering the cannabis industry during the campaign for Proposition 64, which would legalize adult-use cannabis in California. Being an avid cannabis consumer and having experience growing his own, A.J. believed that Proposition 64 would pass and create a massive legal market for cannabis in his home state.
“With Prop 64, I thought to myself, this is going to pass and it’s going to be huge – the biggest legal market for cannabis in the country. I wanted to be a part of it,” A.J. says.
A.J. began researching the burgeoning industry and discovered Oaksterdam University while browsing online. He enrolled in a four-day intensive at the school’s campus in Oakland, Calif. Impressed by his experience there, he signed up for Oaksterdam’s four-day cultivation seminar in Las Vegas, which coincided with the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016. A.J. originally intended to enter the cultivation industry once job opportunities became available, but his career took an unexpected turn.
“I saw on the news that the San Diego City Council was going to be considering legalizing cannabis businesses in city limits,” A.J. says. “This was a big news story for cannabis because San Diego is the second-largest city in the state. What they do could set a trend as to what other cities do.”
Seizing the opportunity, A.J. wondered whether High Times would be interested in a story about the San Diego City Council‘s deliberations. He had some experience writing for a nonprofit organization, and felt confident pitching a story to the renowned cannabis publication.
“Almost right away, an editor got back to me and said they would be interested,” A.J. says.
The city council meeting turned out to be controversial, lasting a grueling 10 hours. “So many people had signed up to speak, mostly in favor of the ordinance but many people against it,” A.J. says. “I went home, wrote the story the next day, and sent it in.’”
This marked the beginning of A.J.’s journey in cannabis journalism. A.J. pitched more stories to High Times, gradually increasing his contributions from one article per week to nearly one per day.
A.J.’s talent, discipline, and growing expertise led to offers from other publications like Forbes and CannabisNow, which he attributed to the foundation he gained from Oaksterdam and his early experiences at High Times.
Stories from the leading edge
Throughout his career, A.J. has had the opportunity to cover many fascinating stories. One of his favorite assignments was covering a beekeeper who collaborated with a medical marijuana provider to create cannabis-infused honey. A.J. put on a bee suit, captured the honey harvesting process through words and photos, and shared the story.
Another highlight was his investigation into the challenges faced by Native American tribes in entering the regulated cannabis market in California. Assigned by the team at High Times, A.J. dedicated weeks to research, interviews, and even visited a reservation in San Diego County to gather firsthand information from a tribe that repurposed their casino space for cannabis businesses on their land.
Today, A.J. continues to thrive in his career as a writer. With multiple clients and daily assignments, he balances his professional life with his passion for cultivating cannabis in his own home garden.
Social media also plays a significant role in A.J.’s work, allowing him to connect with a broader audience and share the latest developments in the cannabis industry. His journey from retail to cannabis journalism stands as a testament to the power of pursuing one’s passions and seizing opportunities in a rapidly evolving field.