From Murder to Money

What I learned as a conflict journalist... about why money matters.

You pursuing wealth, and what you do with it, matters more than you think.

I Used To Pry Out Stories For A Living...

A side tangent on journalism today & why during this time of hypothetical pause and uncertainty it's worth asking - what stories are you telling yourself AND which ones are you listening to? Why the pursuit of profit matters, it really matters.

You see, that’s what we journalists do, we pry truths from souls with a promise to give their stories life. Or at least that’s what we used to do. We journalists, not commentators, not tweeters.

So, I used to be a Journalist. With a capital J.

I wrote about human trafficking, drug smuggling, and the worst type of violence against humanity you can find along our US/Mexico border. I saw bodies dangling, autopsies performed, and dreams shattered.

It changed me. It carved its memories into my skin as sure as a knife. 

Writing my senior thesis from a little shanty I borrowed in Agua Prieta Mexico, I would travel back and forth from the maquiladoras (a type of factory where a majority of immigrant women worked), to towns like Juarez (also known as La Ciudad de Muerte). Each trip my heart broke a little more. Each trip I struggled to see the human in humanity. All against the vibrant, contagious melodic backdrop I’ve come to love called, Mexico.

I remember vividly crossing the border in Juarez from El Paso for the first time. I did it on foot. If you’ve walked those steps, you’ll never forget them. Over the Rio Grande you go from a land of industry and prosperity, to the most dangerous city in Mexico. Just a few weeks prior to my time there a Sinaloan cartel leader was broken out of a maximum-security prison when his gang bore down with Apache helicopters holding anti-tank missiles and decimated the police force.

The meek do not inherit the earth in Mexico. 

Escaping the barbed wire and steel border fences I couldn’t help but gaze upon a towering wooden cross in the middle of the Juarez road. I can still see it. The wood was all but covered in photos, pink ribbons and mementos from the thousands of “las desaparecidas”. The disappeared. These were the women of Juarez who had been murdered, brutalized, and raped all along the Mexican border. 

Every day the newspaper would tell of unnamed women (or more likely a foot, a hand a leg, or two) found scattered in the desert.

The daily tally of appendages was almost as common as quoting the stock market.

Warm tears slid down my face the first I saw that Juarez cross. You can’t look at a visual representation of death come too soon and not feel it. The cross is 10-12 feet high, littered with tokens left by devastated mothers. It leaves its mark on you. To escape it I walked the streets a bit in search of air. Yet scattered throughout the city were a million other reminders. Posters of young women put up by tormented families who had sent their girls north for a better life, only to be greeted by the afterlife. Another street showed unmarked graves, brothels, another clubs for tourists. 

I felt a supreme sense of the brutal but true realization that life… is simply not fair.

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After all, my name is Sanchez. I’m a young(ish) Hispanic woman, with long brown hair and brown eyes that went into the workforce for a better future. My face would have fit in on that cross. Yet, what is different about the life I have been gifted and those who share my name but have been given something different altogether? Why me?

The only solution I could come up with was that I am lucky. I won the birth lottery. No deserving or earning being born into a middle-class family in the US. I just got it. 

In a way, everything I have done in my career has been touched by the shadow of that cross and those faces upon it. 

It's why I went into finance instead of journalism. After all, awareness is great, but money is what pulls people out of poverty and into safety. It’s why we lock our doors, talk about financial security and move to the suburbs.

Money is why I built my first business in Latin America, it’s why we hired almost exclusively women and minorities in finance. Business and capitalism is an opportunity to give a hand up, not a handout. To employ those who could change future generations. And ultimately, it’s why I came to cannabis, then built businesses to help blue-collar works, to help small businesses.

Those humans who brutalize women get away with it with the resources acquired through illegal activities. They traffic in things our government chooses to ignore. It’s sad but true, rich little girls and boys don’t die quietly. There are repercussions to those actions. Those with wealth, make the real change.

I was reminded of all those walking through the streets in Mexico City during the Women’s March against violence. Thousands of women marched in solidarity with those who had been murdered so carelessly their killers walked free with impunity while their mothers never were free again. In Spanish, they call protests Manifestaciones, which is just close enough to manifestation in English to make me smile at the idea of those who do wrong manifesting those who demand right. The protestors marched and graffitied and shouted because what other recourse did they have when feminicide was rising year over year?

Someone the other day said to me that this industry of ours, cannabis, isn’t an impact investment. They said it’s a vice. I’d say in response, what greater impact can there be? 

Predators play and prosper in the dark. It’s only by shining a light, that we can see them. 


It’s only by acknowledging that enough demand means supply will be given one way or another. That to regulate means to shine a light, to bring people in from the dark. That we created a war against a plant that is more a medicine than a vice. That we can maybe, just maybe, make the hope of, “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More), become a truth.

It’s not the only change we need. I’d like to live in a world where no more pink ribbons are added to that cross, where no one with cancer has to worry about the law for their medicine, where employees have opportunities to work, where ideas are allowed to battle in the light, where the money is in the hands of the people, not the government, AND THAT is an impact worth fighting for. 

After all, money is why tech companies have unfair influence in Washington with lobbying dollars.

It’s why Pelosi can help govern a state to the ground and push out a company (Tesla), and then turn around and profit off of it and the expected incentives under a new administration.

So this week.. I wanted to remind you what money is, it’s a tool.

And if you don’t use it well, it’ll use you.

And if you don’t wield it, someone else will.

And if you don’t earn it and put it behind what you care about, a company will.

And as much as you post on SM, putting your $ where your mouth speaks louder.

And if you don’t step up, this life of yours and all the opportunity you have, you’ll never know what you’re fully capable of.

SO this week every time you’re thinking to stop, to take the easy path, to play small, to allow the lunacy to continue, remember that cross. Remember, that you’re not on it.

What are you going to do with that gift? I’m sure asking myself that question.


Question everything.

After all entrepreneurs, founders, doers are the only ones who... sacrifice your now for a vision only you can see. YOU are the ones that change the world.

I hope you are taking this time to "see" more clearly. 

Happy Questioning,

Codie