After a two-month national search, The Denver Post has selected Denver native and freelance writer/editor Alex Pasquariello as editor of The Cannabist.
“At least 200 people applied for a job that must be one of the most fascinating in journalism right now. We didn’t expect to get — and weren’t looking for — a clone of the one-of-a-kind Ricardo Baca, who helped bring The Cannabist international attention,” Denver Post editor Lee Ann Colacioppo said. “What we wanted was an editor with the vision and experience to push this special site to the next level. We found that person in Alex and I can’t wait to see all that he has in store for us.”
There will be a more formal meet-and-greet with Alex when he arrives in April, but in the meantime, The Cannabist sat down with him for a quick Q & A:
A: I grew up in Denver’s south suburbs, graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and built my career in Colorado as a reporter at community newspapers and an editor at national ski titles. I took off for the East Coast in Fall 2006, landing in Condé Nast Traveler’s news department before jetting to digital travel startup Jetsetter. Along the way, I earned assignments around the globe, Moscow to the Amazon (where I met that sloth), and my five-year plan became a decade, complete with wife and kids. I’m elated to move my career and young family back to my hometown for this incredible opportunity to lead The Cannabist.
Q: What did you miss most about Denver or Colorado while you were out East?
A: Denver Nuggets basketball. I modeled my game on Dikembe Mutombo and rooted for the 1998 squad. I thought Carmelo Anthony was our Chosen One, celebrated his first game as a Nugget in October 2003 and booed Melo as a Knick at Madison Square Garden in Spring 2011. I’m all in on Nikola Jokic and can’t wait to catch him at The Can as we make our playoff push.
Q: What excites you the most about taking over the leadership role on The Cannabist?
A: Legal cannabis is a boom commodity unlike any we’ve seen before. The plant is simultaneously life-saving medicine and the life of the party, a spiritual sacrament and a federal offense. It adds up to one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing beats in journalism as legalization spreads from the Mile High City to Maine. Back in 2013, The Denver Post had the foresight to carve The Cannabist a digital space for covering cannabis’ Big Bang, and founding editor Ricardo Baca grew it into a marijuana media powerhouse. He leaves the The Cannabist positioned for editorial expansion keeping pace with the impressive growth rate and increasing complexity of legal cannabis itself.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest story for the legal cannabis industry?
A: Other than the defining battle of federalism vs. states’ rights? My reading of The Federalist Papers aside, I think one of the most important industry trends is the emerging cannabis hospitality movement, broadly encompassing social consumption at licensed clubs, events and hotels. The evolution of “420 Friendly” is going to be big business, further pressing the need for regulatory reform, fully wrapping the marijuana industry within the banking system. And as Americans enjoy increased access to social consumption while traveling in the West, their viewpoints may swing away from prohibition and criminalization at home. Denver remains a legalization laboratory, and the city’s implementation of a four-year Initiative 300 pilot program allowing licensed consumption areas may come to define a profitable new hospitality sector.
Q: A personality quiz question we ask on “The Cannabist Show” is: “Flower, concentrates or edibles?” What’s your preference?
A: I’m a flower guy, sativa, preferably après-ski, definitely not on federal land.