In 2009, Jamen Shively apparently grew bored of his life as a corporate strategy manager at Microsoft. Presumably underwhelmed by the prospects of a long career at the top of America’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving tech industry — really, who wouldn’t be? — Shively quit his job and began focusing his energy on an industry with just a little bit more character to it. Something with fewer established players, more room to grow, and the opportunity to earn enormous returns at the cost of high risk: Marijuana, medical or otherwise.
Shively founded a company called Diego Pellicer, named after a famous hemp grower from the island of Cebu in the Philippines, and set about trying to become “the first retail brand in the United States focused exclusively on legal, premium marijuana for pleasure and creative pursuits.” The company suggests that people think of it “as the ‘Davidoff of marijuana,’” Davidoff being a Swiss luxury tobacco company.
Shively’s ambition captures much of the buzz that surrounds the marijuana industry right now. On Diego Pellicer’s site, he has optimistically projected that the global marijuana industry could grow as large as $500 billion and that he “would be happy if we get 40 percent of it.”