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STEVE ELLIOTT

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[Daniel Berman/Northwest Leaf]
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Former Mexican President Vicente Fox showed his support for Diego Pellicer CEO Jamen Shively, center, at a news conference announcing the company’s plans for dozens of branded legal marijuana stores across Washington state and Colorado Thursday, May 30 in Seattle. Diego Pellicer, Inc. has acquired local dispensary Northwest Patient Resource Center, co-founder John Davis, right, said at the conference.
[Daniel Berman/Northwest Leaf]

So much for mom and pop. Now that the legal marijuana business in Washington state is taking shape, early predictions that big corporate money would soon take over appear to have some basis.

Former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively, 45, now CEO of a company called Diego Pellicer, announced at a Thursday press conference his company’s plans for dozens of branded legal marijuana stores across Washington and Colorado.

“Our group will be investing in the hundreds of millions of dollars in this industry,” said Shively, who managed corporate strategy at Microsoft. “It’s a giant market in search of a brand. We would be happy to get 40 percent of it worldwide.” (How big of him, eh? And how very convenient that Washington’s sparkling new marijuana law doesn’t allow home cultivation.)

A 2005 United Nations report estimated the global marijuana trade to be valued at $142 billion, reports Jonathan Kaminsky at Reuters.

Shively claimed the company would become the “world leader” in adult use and medical marijuana, displaying a dizzying hubris at assuming he’d easily take control of a market (the MMJ one) which, until this point, has been thankfully dominated by local, mom-and-pop operations who actually listen to their patients.

“Diego Pellicer is the first retail brand in the United States focused exclusively on legal, premium marijuana for pleasure and creative pursuits,” the company’s website tells us. “It is important for us to emphasize that everything we do, is and always will be, completely legal.”

Jamen Shively, CEO, Diego Pellicer: "Quote" [Puget Sound Business Journal]
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Jamen Shively, CEO, Diego Pellicer:
“Our group will be investing in the hundreds of millions of dollars in this industry”
[Puget Sound Business Journal]

The nascent CEO said he was kicking off his Seattle-based company by buying up medical marijuana dispensaries in three states. Let’s hope none of that money crosses any state lines, because at that point he’d attract some lively federal attention for interstate marijuana commerce.

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

The source of Shively’s assurance that he’s going to waltz in and take over the medical marijuana market soon became apparent. He’s already established a beachhead (of sorts) inside the industry.

Diego Pellicer, Inc., has acquired local medical marijuana dispensary Northwest Patient Resource Center, Shively and NPRC cofounder John Davis said at the conference. Davis’s irrational hostility last fall (even while disingenuously claiming his dispensary was “neutral” on the issue) to opponents of “legalization” measure Initiative 502 finally makes a lot more sense.

John Davis's bitter attacks on critics of I-502 now make sense: He thought we were threatening his bank account [John Davis's Facebook]
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John Davis’s bitter attacks on critics of I-502 now make sense: He thought we were threatening his bank account
[John Davis’s Facebook]

Davis’s repeated and often embarrassingly juvenile attacks across Facebook on those who pointed out flaws in I-502 were one of the most tawdry and unpleasant spectacles during the lead-up to the vote, which found the measure triumphant by 10 points on election day.

Making last fall’s pre-election display even more low-class was the fact that Davis was completely unable to muster the cojones to cowboy up and actually endorse 502. He maintained the thin facade of “neutrality” right up through the election, even as he found it impossible to contain his rage, expressed through frequent petulant Facebook outbursts of grade-school toxicity.

“That’s why we had a medical system, so we could start small and local and keep big tobacco out, but I guess Microsoft millionaires can step in,” lamented Facebook commenter Aaron Beard of Freeland, Washington.

The Ex-President of Mexico Says You Should Trust These Guys

Meanwhile, back at Thursday’s press conference, things attained an even deeper level of profound weirdness because former Mexican President Vicente Fox showed up to lend his support for Shively and his Diego Pellicer venture. Perhaps a moment’s reflection will cast light on why having the top chief executive of a government notoriously corrupted by violent drug cartels might not have been the best way to convince folks in Washington that the marijuana business isn’t run by thugs.

In any event, there sat President Fox, adding a bracing current of What The Fuck to the surreal proceedings. Perhaps a clue to Fox’s presence was the fact that Shively shared his vision of a future where he’ll be legally importing marijuana from Mexico.

Big Corporate Takeover? Or Hot Air?

“No harm in planning,” commented someone with a Facebook account called I-502 Implementation in Washington, “however, the system the WSLCB [Washington State Liquor Control Board] offers in the draft rules for the issuance of retail licenses will be a random drawing to see who has the opportunity to apply — then if there are more applicants than available licenses there will be a lottery drawing from among the qualified applicants.

Washington state marijuana czar Mark Kleiman. Damn, Mark, where's your badge? [ADAI News]
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Washington state marijuana czar Mark Kleiman. Damn, Mark, where’s your badge?
[ADAI News]

“Shively can plan as much as he wants, but the system being implemented doesn’t guarantee that his company’s retail applications will even make it through the first round,” the commenter said. “Making a prediction here – Shively is full of hot air and that will be revealed at some point. He seems to be a master at self promotion and attention seeking.”

Washington state’s marijuana czar, Mark Kleiman, shared the skepticism for Shively’s plans.

“It’s very hard for me to understand why anybody seriously interested in being in the marijuana business, which after all is against federal law, would so publicly announce his conspiracy to break that law,” Kleiman said.

On top of all the other obvious weirdness, doesn’t it seems rather odd that the guy Washington state has put in charge of overseeing the legal marijuana business in the state calls it a “conspiracy” when someone offers to invest? Or is that just me? You’d almost think the guy had a badge.

Editor’s note: A big thanks to photographer Daniel Berman and Northwest Leaf for permission to use the photo at the top of this article.

 

 

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