Is a "Starbucks of Pot" on the Horizon?
A former Microsoft manager plans to launch the world's first global marijuana brand.
Budding marijuana mogul Jamen Shively is building the nation's first retail brand of marijuana, he announced at a Seattle press conference on Thursday, alongside former Mexican president Vicente Fox. The 45-year-old former corporate strategy manager at Microsoft has been developing a chain of retail stores, already dubbed "the Starbucks of pot." "It's a giant market in search of a brand," he said of the world-wide marijuana industry (estimated at $142 billion). "We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide." The self-proclaimed "amateur evangelist of cannabis" said he has only recently "fallen in love" with pot after smoking it for the first time 18 months ago. Since then, he has been purchasing marijuana dispensaries in Washington and Colorado, where recreational pot was legalized last November. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a unique moment in history,” Shively said Thursday. “The Berlin Wall of the prohibition of cannabis is weak, and it is crumbling as we speak.” The brand will be called "Diego Pellicer" after Shively's great-grandfather, who he claims was a major hemp grower. All that remains is the cash. Shively is currently seeking investors for the estimated $10 million needed to launch the company—but he seems optimistic. "Let’s go big or go home," he said. "We’re going to mint more millionaires than Microsoft with this business."
As far as legal issues, Shively said he's not concerned about the federal government cracking down—all his dispensaries comply with local and state law, and his business will be transparent. "If [the feds] want to come talk to me, I'll be delighted to meet with them," he said. "I'll tell them everything that we're doing and show them all our books." He plans to launch the brand both domestically and internationally, and said he and Fox "intend to pursue" the possibility of a marijuana trade between Mexico and the US. The former Mexican president, who has advocated for legalization of all drugs, called Shively's vision a "game changer." Fox has been vocal in his opposition to the aggressive drug war tactics in Mexico, and added that he was glad to be working alongside Shively, instead of notorious Mexican drug lord, Chapo Guzman. "It’s time for a new start, a new vision," he said, "That’s why I applaud this group."