Former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively has announced his plan to create the first national marijuana brand. Shively, who has already begun acquiring multiple medical marijuana dispensaries in three states, said he envisions his brand becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis, much like Starbucks.
Shively, 45, said he is already soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up money and plans to import the product legally from Mexico. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it is legal in two states, Washington and Colorado, and 18 more allow it for medical purposes. "It's a giant market in search of a brand," Shively said. "We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide."
So far, many are skeptical of Shively's plan, arguing that the federal ban on the substance will be too great a barrier. "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 Washington state marijuana consultant Mark Kleiman.
Shively said he ultimately envisions separate brands for recreational and medical use, and plans to fund studies of cannabis’s effects on cancer and other illnesses.