Americans can make a business out of anything. Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager has a dream, he wants his new Seattle-based company to be the leader in both
recreational and medical cannabis. Or as he put it he wants his venture to be the Starbucks of marijuana.
Shively, 45, whose six years at Microsoft ended in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up 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.”
Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.
Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it.
“What a difference it makes to have Jamen here sitting at my side instead of Chapo Guzman,” said Fox, referring to the fact he would rather see Shively selling marijuana legally than the Mexican drug kingpin selling it illegally. “This is the story that has begun to be written here.”
WAIT ONE SECOND! Importing the pot? What the heck is wrong with manufacturing the stuff in the US? Hasn’t he ever heard of Maui Wowie?
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.”
Of course a major kink in Shively’s plan is “grass” is still illegal according to the federal government, even in states that have decriminalized possession and sale.
Comedian Lewis Black has a great routine about Starbucks:
There sits a Starbucks and directly across the street from that exact same building as that Starbucks there is another Starbucks. There is a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. And ladies and gentleman that, is the end of the universe. People have asked me “How do you know this?” Well go there. Stand between those two Starbucks, and when you look at your watch, time stands still. And what’s truly amazing, if you turn and look just at one Starbucks immediately you think “You know when I turn around, there can’t possibly be a Starbucks behind me.” If there’s a just and loving god how could he allow that to happen? So you turn slowly think maybe there’s a McDonald’s there or possibly an Exxon station or maybe a Gap but there’s another Starbucks! many people have asked are there too many Starbucks? Well now we know. YES. When you build a Starbucks across the road from another Starbucks, the game is over. You can build no more.
If Shively’s dream is realized, when you see one pot store across the street from another, it might just be because you are confused having smoked just a bit too much.