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31 May, 2013 20:19

Ex-Microsoft manager works to create first US marijuana brand

Ex-Microsoft manager works to create first US marijuana brand

A former Microsoft executive is planning to create a marijuana enterprise that he hopes will dominate the legal cannabis industry during the “dot bong era” much like Starbucks dominates the coffee industry.

James Shively, a 45-year-old ex-corporate strategy manager at Microsoft, is working out plans for a national marijuana brand that he will sell at medical pot dispensaries in states where the drug is legal.

Shively is currently asking investors for $10 million to start up the business, which he hopes will become lucrative as marijuana becomes decriminalized or legalized across the world. The ex-Microsoft manager hopes to purchase pot dispensaries in Colorado and Washington, where voters legalized recreational marijuana use, and in California, where medical use is legal.

“It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” he told Reuters. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”

The United Nations in 2005 estimated that the global marijuana trade is worth $142 billion, and 18 US states have already legalized it for medical use. Shively plans to legally import high-quality weed for his business from Mexico.

“By creating the category of premium marijuana, we want to position it similar to a fine cognac, a fine brandy, a fine cigar,” he told KIRO-TV.

The entrepreneur discussed his plans at a news conference in downtown Seattleon Thursday, together with former Mexican President Vicente Fox – a stark advocate of the decriminalization of marijuana. Shively hopes that the former president will serve as an advisor for the start-up, Reuters reports.

“What a difference it makes to have Jamen here sitting at my side instead of Chapo Guzman,” said Fox, explaining that he would rather see Shively sell marijuana legally than the Mexican drug kingpin sell it illegally. “This is the story that has begun to be written here.”

Shively’s plans conflict with US federal law, but he hopes to circumvent the feds by buying local and state dispensaries where marijuana is legal, as well as exercise a transparent business.

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

Shively’s plans have been in the words for several months. In December, he told KIRO-TV that he plans to name the business after his great-great grandfather, Diego Pellicer, who was allegedly the world’s largest marijuana producer in the 19thcentury.

“He was supplying hemp rope made from the marijuana tree to the Spanish Armada during the Spanish-American War,” Shively told the station. “So I’ve got marijuana in my blood, so to speak.”

Shively refers to the present as the “dot bong era”, and says he came up with the idea for his business “after a few bong hits.”

The businessman worked at Microsoft for six years until 2009, but now believes that the pot industry will join the ranks of the world’s largest corporations.

“The buzz is in the air,” he told the television station. “This is a new industry in the making, and it’s going to be a giant industry.”