Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox has backed an ex-Microsoft businessman's plans to create the first legal "Big Marijuana" business, highlighting how quickly commerce will look to capitalize on relaxed drug policy.
Speaking at a press conference, Fox threw his support behind the plans of former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively to create the first national brand of retail marijuana, called Diego Pellicer.
"With this we will avoid the violence," he told CNN. "We will control the criminals and reduce their income, and at the same time it would become a transparent, accountable business in the hands of businessmen."
Shively and his associates plan to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado by creating a chain of marijuana businesses. They are already acquiring medical-marijuana dispensaries in the two states.
Shively shrugged off concerns over the challenges of establishing a legal business in a sector that remains illegal under federal law, and said he had created a way to protect investors from the federal authorities, according to the Seattle Times.
When the new company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last March, it registered that it had raised $125,000 of an anticipated $625,000. Shively, however, insisted the business will eventually "mint more millionaires than Microsoft."
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Shively's determination to capitalize on the marijuana business while the United States continues to struggle to reconcile opposing state and federal laws demonstrates the challenges the country will face in implementing a piecemeal approach to the issue.
It also highlights one potential path legalization could take -- leaving it to the free market. In contrast, the most far-reaching marijuana reform legislation yet drafted in Latin America -- specifically, Uruguay's plans for nationwide decriminalization and regulation -- is an example of an alternative path, in which the trade will remain in the hands of the state.
Leaving the decriminalized drug business to the free market would almost certainly lead to an economic boom in the sector, likely creating more tax revenues and jobs than a strictly regulated state enterprise. However, if left to itself, this could create social problems as businesses would have an incentive to not only profit from drug use but also promote it.