At the age of 14, Joshua Haupt woke up in an ambulance. He was supposed to be in school, but he had suffered a seizure at the breakfast table. Later that day, Haupt was diagnosed with epilepsy.
That diagnosis eventually led Haupt down the path to become an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. Today, Haupt, 32, is worth millions, including a 16 percent stake in Medicine Man Technologies.
Haupt, who lives in Denver, made his fortune after selling a cannabis guidebook company, Pono Publications, and marijuana nutrient line, Success Nutrients. In 2017, he sold both companies to cannabis consulting firm Medicine Man Technologies, for 7 million shares in Medicine Man. Haupt personally owns 4.4 million shares in Medicine Man, according to May 2017 SEC filings, which are currently worth about $9 million. (Medicine Man Technologies is a penny stock that trades on the over-the-counter market, which has less stringent requirements for listing than blue chip indexes and is typically a more volatile market.)
He also owns two cannabis grow facilities in Colorado, Haupt said.
In his late teens and early 20s, Haupt's family wasn't sure he was headed down the right path. While in high school, he began growing cannabis to help prevent his epileptic seizures. In Colorado, where he lives, medical marijuana has been legal for epileptics since 2000.
Haupt became determined to find an alternative remedy for his seizures after his epilepsy medication caused him side effects, including hair loss and weight gain, which took a toll on his confidence.
But at the time, medical marijuana usage was heavily frowned upon by the general public, Haupt said. "The attitude towards cannabis back then was very much, keep it behind closed doors," he said. "Do not let anybody know about this."
Haupt wasn't worried about the stigma. He cared more about his health. "When I was about 22 years old, I stepped into realizing that I can no longer continue running into these side effects, especially with the list that was coming, from liver failure to other things that you just don't want to deal with in life," he said.
Haupt grew up with a passion for gardening, so his family put him in charge of caring for their garden, he said. From there, he developed a natural knack for cultivating cannabis.
Haupt says his growing methods yield three times more cannabis than the average grower. He details his method in his $500 guidebook, "Three A Light." The title references three pounds of cannabis produced per grow light, which is used in indoor facilities to stimulate photosynthesis. While writing the book, Haupt also designed a nutrient line for growing cannabis, called Success Nutrients.
Currently, he's the chief revenue officer at Medicine Man Technologies, which acquired his companies.
The father-of-two says he is now seizure-free. At age 24, he replaced his epilepsy medication with CBD, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first prescription drug containing CBD, to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
"You know we've come a long ways in the last decade with our society," Haupt said. "Before they were like, 'Josh is using cannabis for his epilepsy … That sounds like some kind of home remedy that is not going to work and he needs to be on his medication. This is not right.'"
But a decade later, things are different. Now, "they're saying, 'Buddy, we're sorry we ever doubted you.'"
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Haupt owns 4.4 million shares of Medicine Man Technologies.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!