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

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Lesbians, men most likely…

Lesbians, men most likely to achieve orgasm Location: U.S. Study subjects: 2,850 people Results: Whether you find it shocking or not, a new study reports that…

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.