Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, praised local entrepreneur Jamen Shively’s vision for a legal pot business reaching across the U.S. and perhaps beyond its borders.
But in a news conference that was long on ambition and short on specifics, Shively seemed to retreat from earlier statements that he wanted to open up legal marijuana trade between Mexico and the U.S.
Calling Shively’s plans for a national brand of legal marijuana a “game-changer,” Fox said he‘d much rather sit next to the former Microsoft manager than Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious drug warlord.
“It’s time for a new start, a new vision. That’s why I applaud this group,” said Fox, who now heads a think tank operating out of his presidential library.
But one speaker at the event, Skip Dreps, a Washington veteran, said he wouldn’t be involved with Shively’s company if it engaged in international pot trade and he was told it would not.
Instead, Dreps likened Shively’s goal to opening Pizza Hut franchises in Mexico for selling pot. “They’re not sending their pizzas” or pot across the border, Dreps said. Marijuana is not currently legal in Mexico.
In his evolving plan, Shively said, Mexican stores would offer local pot products. The idea of pot trade between the two countries is still worth considering, he said, adding that he and Fox intend to pursue it.
Shively predicted that in five years the Seattle headquarters of his nascent company, Diego Pellicer, would employ more than 1,000 people.
But Shively offered frustratingly few details about the Washington and Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries he says he has acquired the rights to buy. He also offered virtually no details about investors, the amount they’ve invested, and how those investments would not violate the federal prohibition of marijuana.
Shively’s lawyer said the structure of the investments is confidential. Shively said details of his dispensary deals are privileged.
A filing by Shively’s company with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission in late March showed that he had only raised $125,000 at that point. Shively said much has changed since then and in several weeks he will have raised $10 million.
A U.S. Department of Justice representative in Seattle had no comment on Shively’s plans and referred questions to Washington, D.C. A department spokeswoman there would only say “The Department is continuing to review the legalization initiatives passed in Washington and Colorado.”