Ex-Microsoft manager plans to create first US marijuana brand

(File/Reuters)
Jamen Shively wants to lead the Starbucks of marijuana distributors. Credit: Reuters

A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, and said he is kicking off his Seattle-based business by acquiring medical cannabis dispensaries in three U.S. states.

Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis — much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said.

Shively, 45, whose six years at Microsoft ended in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in startup money.

The use, sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal in the United States under federal law. Two U.S. states have, however, legalized recreational marijuana use and are among 18 states that allow it for medical use.

“It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” Shively said of the marijuana industry. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”

A 2005 United Nations report estimated the global marijuana trade to be valued at $142 billion.

Washington state and Colorado became the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization in November.

Shively is planning to lay out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be legally imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.

The sale of cannabis or marijuana remains illegal in much of the world although countries mainly in Europe and the Americas have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of it. A larger number of countries have decriminalized or legalized cannabis for medical use.

Shively acknowledges that his business plans conflict with U.S. federal law and are complicated by regulations in both Washington state and Colorado. He said he is interested in buying dispensaries that comply with local and state rules and are less likely to attract the scrutiny of authorities.

“If they want to come talk to me, I’ll be delighted to meet with them,” he said of federal officials. “I’ll tell them everything that we’re doing and show them all our books.”

Skepticism

Washington state’s marijuana consultant, Mark Kleiman, said he was skeptical of Shively’s plans.

“It’s very hard for me to understand why anybody seriously interested in being in the marijuana business, which after all is against the federal law, would so publicly announce his conspiracy to break that law,” said Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, referred questions to the Department of Justice headquarters. Department officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Washington state Representative Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, sees promise in Shively’s initiative. Any industry emerging from the shadows will inevitably undergo consolidation – and thereby simplify the task of regulators, he said.

“The fact that an entrepreneur is publicly pushing the envelope around a branding and value-based pricing opportunity, I would say that’s in the water in Seattle,” said Carlyle, chairman of the House Finance Committee. “That’s in our DNA … We could have predicted that as much as the rain.”

Shively said he has already acquired the rights to the Northwest Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana operation that includes two Seattle store fronts. He added that he was close to acquiring another dispensary in Colorado, as well as two more each in Washington state and California, with the owners given the option to retain a stake in their businesses.

“We’ve created the first risk-mitigated vehicles for investing directly in this business opportunity,” he said.

Shively said he ultimately plans to create separate medical and recreational-use marijuana brands. Shively said he also plans to launch a study of the effectiveness of concentrated cannabis oil in the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.