First Marijuana Brand

Brian Hicks

Updated June 3, 2013

Those keeping a close eye on the marijuana industry have a lot to be interested in right now. While it may have only been a matter of time, it appears as if the world may soon see the first true marijuana brand come to life.

It should come as no surprise that the news comes out of Seattle, a city known to many people as the birthplace of corporate coffee giant Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) in a state where marijuana use was recently legalized. In fact, Jamen Shively has likened the business model for his planned company, Diego Pellicer, to Starbucks, stating that he’s looking to create a business that is the dominant force within its industry. 

marijuanaAnd as far as he’s concerned, there’s never been a situation like this before. “It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” said Shively, according to Reuters. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”

Shively is looking to corner the market not only for medical marijuana use but recreational use as well. He’s looking towards states such as Colorado and Washington that have already legalized the drug for recreational usage, but he isn’t stopping there. As legislation will no doubt continue to spread throughout the country and the rest of the world, Shively is setting his sights on a much broader spectrum than simply two or three states in the nation. 

He also plans on creating two separate business entities – one tied to medical marijuana and one tied to recreational use of the drug.

A Difficult Legal Climate

As those who have followed the changes in marijuana legislation know, certain states are certainly leaning towards a more lax policy towards the drug. This being said, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, which could make it more difficult for Shively to achieve his goals than it might be otherwise. 

Nevertheless, the former Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) employee and marijuana advocate isn’t about ready to let anything get in his way. “If they want to come talk to me, I’ll be delighted to meet with them,” Shively said, speaking on federal officials. “I’ll tell them everything that we’re doing and show them all our books.”

It’s not as simple as trying to make things happen within the confines of the States, however. Indeed, Shively is trying to take a more international approach, as he plans to important marijuana directly from Mexico.

While federal legality may make this difficult for him, Shively is not without his support; he’s even getting verbal support from the former president of Mexico. If Shively were to achieve his goals of importing the drug from Mexico, it would set a brand new precedent on the legal market.

The other side of the story is that only a handful of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and it’s unclear as to how long it could take for others to follow. Such a focused start may allow Shively to build his business at a reasonable pace, however, which might be a different scenario altogether if the drug were already legalized nationwide. 

An Investor’s View 

Investors have a lot to clamor about when it comes to the marijuana industry. The industry is growing at a very steady pace, and it’s clear now that the legislation ball has begun rolling that growth will only continue. While businesses such as Shively’s may not be off the ground and running yet, they’ll no doubt serve as strong investment opportunities in the future. 

For now, there are other ways for investors to get involved in the marijuana industry. Biotech companies that specialize in medical preparations of the drug, for example, are seeing promise for stockholders.

Marijuana vending machines are also likely to make a splash, allowing qualified customers to purchase the drug on the go. As with dispensaries that are already located in states such as Colorado and Washington, the placement of these machines is likely to expand and grow with the industry.

Years ago, it would have been laughable to think that marijuana could ever become a multi-billion dollar industry heading towards a veritable golden age. While legal justifications are not entirely set into place as of yet, the direction things are headed shows promise for the industry in ways that might never have been imaginable in the past.


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