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Ex-Microsoft man plans brand of consumer marijuana 'fine cigars'

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An ex-Microsoft executive plans to establish a chain of retail outlets serving premium marijuana across the US, both to get rich and - apparently - to undermine drugs traffickers.

James Shively is reported to buying up medical marijuana dispensaries in the states of Washington and Colorado and boasted the business will produce more millionaires than his former employer, also in Washington.

"Let's go big or go home," Shively is reported to have told press. "We're going to mint more millionaires than Microsoft with this business."

The reason, Shively observed - accurately - is that marijuana is the only market of its size lacking a single established brand.

And there's a very good reason for that: supply and sale of pot is illegal in most US states. Two states - Washington and Colorado - allow the use of pot for recreational reasons, thanks to successful ballots in last November's elections. They are among 18 - including Silicon Valley's home state of California - that condone reefers for medical purposes, with pot sold at approved clinics to people with medical clearance.

But regulators are already snipping away at the new law in Washington and medical clinics are often subject to closure and harassment from legislators, flatfoots and the Feds.

Despite this, Shively plans to become a national leader in the medical and adult recreational pot markets.

He is reportedly planning his own brand of up-market recreational and - in some US states medical - green that'll be named after his great-great grandfather, Diego Pellicer.

"By creating the category of premium marijuana, we want to position it similar to a fine cognac, a fine brandy, a fine cigar," Shively said. "Something to be savored and enjoyed, in small quantities by responsible adults."

The effort has earned the backing of former Mexican president Vincente Fox, with the pair announcing a proposal to regulate grass trade between the US and Mexico. In an unusual twist, Fox - who has shared the world stage with the likes of former US president George W Bush - is said to be a longtime acquaintance of Shively.

The ex-Microsoft man is an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana, while Fox takes the view that the US policy of zero tolerance and war on drugs isn't working, with drugs responsible for the escalating violence between cartels, gangs and warlords in his country.

Fox is not involved in Shively's money-making freedom toking venture, but apparently praised Shively for having "the courage to move ahead". ®

Bootnote

Diego Pellicer somehow doesn't seem as inspired as it might be. What do you think would be the right name for a marijuana brand inspired by the history and track record of Microsoft?

Suggestions in the comments, please - and if there are enough strong contenders we'll have a reader poll to pick the winner this week.

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