A former corporate strategy manager at Microsoft plans to create the first national marijuana brand, and said he is kicking off his Seattle-based business by acquiring medical cannabis dispensaries in three states.
Jamen Shively, 45, envisions his enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis—much like Starbucks is in coffee, he said.
Shively, who was with Microsoft six years and left in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up money.
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The use, sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal in the U.S. under federal law. But two states have legalized recreational marijuana use and are among 18 states that allow it for medical use. Washington and Colorado became the first states to allow recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization in November.
"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."
The sale of marijuana remains illegal in much of the world, although some countries—mainly in Europe and the Americas—have decriminalized its possession in small quantities. A larger number have decriminalized or legalized marijuana for medical use.