Medical marijuana users may soon have their choice of a nationally branded cannabis option, as a former Microsoft executive announced plans for developing "the Starbucks" of both recreational and medical cannabis.
Former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, Jamen Shively, plans on importing marijuana from Mexico to be distributed at dispensaries in three states bearing his yet unannounced name-brand. "It's a giant market in search of a brand," Shively told Reuters of the estimated $142 billion cannabis market. "We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide."
Shively is moving forward with his plans despite federal laws that prohibit the sale of marijuana in U.S. states, even though several state laws have approved it for medical uses. Last year, Washington state and Colorado became the first states to make recreational use of marijuana legal, adding to the growing controversy of the plant's classification as a Schedule 1 drug.
Criticism has surrounded Shively's plan for several reasons. With cannabis still illegal per federal law, the announcement of his intent to pursue illegal activity jeopardizes Shively's efforts before they get off the ground. Others have suggested his plan to market a brand name drug is profiting off of addiction and medical conditions.
And then there are concerns about sourcing the marijuana out of country.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox appeared in a press conference with Shively last week, stating it was "the story that has begun to be written," commenting on moving marijuana through Shively rather than the Mexican drug channels that have led to a number of murders and gang activity. With a stronghold on Mexican marijuana, attempts to route the crop through Shively and away from Mexican drug cartels could create a severe backlash and more violence.
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