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How Do You Feel About Big Business Trying To Take Over The Marijuana Industry?


big business jamen shively monsanto marijuana industryLast week social media and blogs were inundated with comments and articles about a former Microsoft Executive’s (Jamen Shively) announcement that he is planning to jump into the marijuana industry.

“At a press conference in downtown’s tallest skyscraper, Shively said he and business partners will begin in Washington State and Colorado, where rules for legal pot come online this year, and wait as voters pick off prohibition across the country. Flanked by lawyers, a state lawmaker, and former Mexico president Vicente Fox, Shively said he is a “couple weeks” from an initial $10 million milestone, and within three years, he fully expects to open—some medical marijuana and some recreational marijuana—a dozen branded stores in Washington State, another dozen stores in Colorado, and as many as hundreds in California (a state where only medical marijuana is currently legal but where voters are widely expected to legalize recreational pot in 2016).” Reported journalist Dominic Holden.

A big business takeover of the marijuana industry has been something that many marijuana activists and current industry members have feared for awhile now. The fears are well founded, and the infiltration of the marijuana industry by big business is something that is not going to go away. I have talked to a lot of outside investors since the 2012 Election, and many of them are performing their due diligence to see how they can crack into a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing larger by the day.

I always snicker at them, because they are in over their heads. Jamen Shively, if his claims prove to be true, is in way over his head. It’s almost as if they don’t realize how hard it is to crack into the marijuana industry, especially being an outsider. Opening a chain of marijuana stores is not like opening a chain of fast food joints. I have heard many investors from outside of the marijuana industry talk as if marijuana isn’t illegal at the federal level. They talk as if the IRS isn’t going after marijuana businesses by using the tax system and that the DEA isn’t constantly trying to go after the marijuana industry at just about every level (especially retail). The things that they learned in traditional business and from business school don’t always translate to the marijuana industry. Just because something worked in the credit card industry or computer industry doesn’t mean that it is going to work in the marijuana industry. In a lot of cases, because it worked in big business, it definitely won’t work in the marijuana industry, where many consumers don’t like big business and what they are about.

The marijuana industry has long been a cottage industry, operating at a local level. Part of that is because of laws prohibiting/hindering the industry but a lot of it is also because of the local-minded culture that marijuana consumers have. How many times have you heard ‘my hometown/state has the best marijuana on the planet’? I’m assuming it’s far more often than you hear ‘I sure wish I could buy generic, mass produced marijuana products from afar.’ This is especially true in the two states that have legal marijuana (Washington and Colorado), where they have a lot of local pride in their marijuana.

Big business members from outside of the marijuana industry just don’t ‘get it.’ The fact that Mr. Shively is talking about importing marijuana from Mexico shows just how out of touch he is with the average marijuana consumer. The only people that consume marijuana from Mexico are people that have to. There just simply isn’t any other marijuana in their area, so they are forced to either go without or smoke bammer. FYI Mr. Shively and others, NO ONE LIKES SMOKING BAMMER.

The only good thing that I can see from big business trying to crack into the marijuana industry is that it might speed up the rate of reform. Politicians are more likely to listen to big business lobbyists than they are to the common person, for better or worse. However, I always tell people that think the big business lobby will help speed up reform that Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana because of the efforts of a collective group of common people – not big business. Marijuana reform will come, whether big business is involved or not.

I’d rather see the people from the cottage marijuana industry get marijuana reform achieved so that they can receive the financial benefits that come from a legal, regulated market. The idea that the people that have been fighting for reform for so many years are going to be pushed out by big business breaks my heart to even think about. It’s better for the marijuana consumer to have people from inside the marijuana industry creating and distributing the products they buy rather than big business too. I certainly know that I don’t want to buy a pack of ‘bammer joints’ and I doubt others do too, especially when there are so many quality products that I can buy at the local level from true marijuana industry experts.

One thing that really bothers me about big business people trying to get into the marijuana industry is that they rarely, if ever, try to lead reform efforts. They are simply waiting for all of us to do the heavy lifting, then they are going to try to swoop in to reap the benefits. Why doesn’t big business fight for 280e reform? Why doesn’t big business lead the way on fighting for asset forfeiture reform? Why doesn’t big business support initiatives? If they do currently, they certainly aren’t doing it enough! Planning to profit off of the backs of activists is a slap in the face in my opinion.

What do readers think? What are  your fears about a marijuana industry takeover? Do you think that big business can overcome the hurdles that they face and take over the marijuana industry, or do you think that this is all hype? Do you fear that companies like Monsanto will eventually takeover, and ruin, the marijuana industry? Does anyone out there think that the marijuana industry could benefit from some big business influences? I look forward to reading your comments.

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About Author

Johnny Green


  1. unitedcannabisworkers on

    As big business begins to invade our industry (and tobacco companies are my biggest fear since they could care less about their customers), my people are working diligently to create a voice for the workers in those big companies. We are the only advocate organization created exclusively for the workers in the industry. Check out unitedcannabisworkers.org or vist united cannbis workers on facebook and find out what we think of big business. I was preaching warnings about this a year ago at the Los Angeles Hempcon Convention. Scot Bennett, President, United Cannabis Workers.

  2. Kimberly Walden on

    I am a medical patient and was one of the ones that put my neck out to get this far, I now wonder what has happened. Us Grass-roots people are now getting screwed all our right are being taken, we will always be dirty for a DUI, and they want to load the plant with over 200 additives. I see big business as evil waiting around the corner. All we can do at this point is boycott, but we really need to stick together on this issue at this point. Because it maybe legal now, but rights are being taken real fast, watch the bottom line!!!!!

  3. I believe they already have :( I don’t have a link for proof but I remember seeing something about this not too long ago. :(

  4. I agree with areal hippy if you can’t grow it yourself it’s not truly legagal. Government has simply found a way to regulate and make us pay for something that is our god given right in the first place.this issue has funded and fueled a police state and made POW of thousands of americans. This isn’t about profits, it’s about freedom to choose for oneself that which they will or will not do.

  5. the only way people are gonna buy government sanctioned herb is if its cheaper and better quality than the gangsters selling it. like in Uruguay, i heard the legal herb there is only gonna cost $2 a gram … $30 a gram (the amount i heard they were tossing around in CO) isn’t gonna fly with anyone

  6. I just hope Monsanto doesn’t get their filthy grippers on cannabis seeds and start selling us GMO herb! I will grow my own if that is the case .. fuck some GMO!

  7. thank you for writing this this is so incredibly true not only do I think big business is going to try to push their way in but I also think that once they push themselves and they will fail horribly due to the culture that surrounds cannabis and you are right in saying that most people look for organic very well grown cannabis over mass produce genetically altered crappy funk weed and yes it is very funny that they think they can import from Mexico not only will they end up in jail but they need to realize that in at the other place other than Colorado and Washington that has a medical marijuana lawsthat you cannot start setup selling cannabis without for setting up a non-profit Collective or cooperative in medical states you cannot sell cannabis for profit legally and it’s funny that they are not seeing that

  8. Which is better?

    The right to possess 1 ounce of marijuana, 1 pound of edibals and a 6pack of pot drink with zero penalties. No fines, jail, forced treatment, drug courts or criminal record.
    And the option of having a safe legit market to buy your marijuana where its tested and you know what your getting.


    (BEFORE I-502)
    Marijuana 100% illegal. Possess any amount and you get fines, jail, forced treatment, and your weed confiscated that you paid good money for. And no option of a safe legit market. Your forced to deal with dangerous criminals to get your marijuana.

    As watered down as I-502 is with no homegrows. How are you going to tell me that the 2nd option is better than the first?

  9. Arent they still sending you to jail even without I-502 for growing your own???

    At least with I-502 you could possess an ounce of marijuana, a pound of brownies, and a 6pack of pot drink with ZERO PENALTY. They dont fine you, jail you, confiscate your weed, or put you in drug courts like they would without I-502.

    At least with I-502 you will have the option of buying marijuana from a safe legit source instead of relying on criminals who might sell you laced adulterated poisoned weed. Something that wasnt allowed before I-502.

    How can you tell me that I-502 with the right to possess marijuana with no penalty and the right to buy it from a safe legit source is somehow WORSE? Even if it is highly taxed, At least I would have access to it.

  10. So you’re going to be much happier with the LCB “Revenuers” throwing you in prison, confiscating your weed and sending you to treatment? Is this a big step forward for you? I agree with bcainw….wake the fuck up!!!

  11. Joe the “problem” is that the states are going to monopolize it and also send you to jail if you continue to “grow your own.” Please, wake the fuck up.

  12. Id take “tax, regulate and control” over “fines, prison, confiscate your weed, and forced treatment” any day! .

  13. State sanctioned marijuana sales is a ripoff ..
    If u can’t grow your own it’s really not legal…these Clubs have become a joke IMO..they can giv us a lousy 2 toothpick joints for 15 or 20.. Fuck u ..I’ll just grow a pound weather it’s legal or not..

  14. SteveSarich on

    They’re already planning it. That and “tax stamps” for the “legal pot”. And who said we weren’t facing the “New Approach” to prohibition? TAX STAMPS! That’s how this whole thing got started and these assholes probably don’t even know that!

    I hope every last one of you that voted for this piece of shit is happy with the way this is turning out. Tell me where we weren’t correct in all of our predictions about the outcome of the piece of crap that you insisted was “legalization”?

    John Davis, the CEO of Hempfest, and his partner, Jamen Shively, are now referring to themselves as “Big Marijuana”. You were scared of big pharma and big tobacco? These mongrels are FAR worse and they’ll sell you down the road quicker than anyone. They’ll be the first to snitch off anyone that’s growing personal pot, just because you’re cutting into their profits.

    And we’ll have 3 new per se DUID charges added to the books in the legislature this month….unless I can kill them. Where are all you assholes who said “we can just fix it later”. I hope you’re the first dumbshits to get charged and have to have an alcohol interlock device installed in your car. Yep….alcohol interlock devices for marijuana charges. FIX THAT ONE YOU MEAT HEADS!

  15. What they will do is get legislation passed that prohibits the production of cannabis by individuals or small companies. Then they will be able to control the production and sales.

  16. Carol Friendly on

    I believe as you do: that the marijuana production should stay a cottage industry and grown for use locally so that the quality of the strains needed for each kind of ailment is maintained. Also, the product can stay organic and not be saturated by pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers as most of our food is.

  17. SteveSarich on

    Absolutely NOT! I work every single day to improve it. I’ve made 31 trips to testify in the legislature this year. What do YOU do…. besides blogging?

  18. “They are simply waiting for all of us to do the heavy lifting, then they are going to try to swoop in to reap the benefits.”

    You were expecting a fair world?

  19. SteveSarich on

    ABSOLUTELY! Everyone should be able to grow their own! That’s just not what we got.

  20. Steve, do you feel that every adult should be able to legally access marijuana if they want to? Yes or No?

  21. SteveSarich on

    Sorry to break this too you, Sean, but marijuana did not actually get “legalized” in the State of Washington. Those of us who actually support real legalization are just laughing our asses off that people still haven’t gotten that yet. It’s even funnier to see this bizarre cast of characters that Hollywood couldn’t have invented, coming out of the woodwork selling snake oil, and more different scams than I can name, to everyone that thinks they’re going to be “minting new millionaires” and who are scared to lose out on their big chance.

  22. SteveSarich on

    Sorry to break this too you, Sean, but marijuana did not actually get “legalized” in the State of Washington. Those of us who actually support real legalization are just laughing our asses off that people still haven’t gotten that yet. It’s even funnier to see this bizarre cast of characters that Hollywood couldn’t have invented, coming out of the woodwork selling snake oil, and more different scams than I can name, to everyone that thinks they’re going to be “minting new millionaires” and who are scared to lose out on their big chance.

  23. While I have my concerns about big business controlling marijuana, it seems that some so called activists use this as an excuse not to legalize for all adult use which is equally reprehensible.

  24. Edwin Davidson on

    Up yours Shively, I dont trust my medicine coming from the Man.Sti ck it to the Man and money whores.I dont want that bad energy sticking to my medicine .We dont want your stinking Mexican dirt weed.Buy American.

  25. We don’t want big business to take over. small growers will be able to live and eat. Government just don’t get it.

  26. onebrownmouse on

    Funnyhow the first ‘self proclaimed’ “National (USA) Brand” of cannabis will be imported from Mexican drug cartels by a 1%er. Alice in Wonderland…….and the 99% still possible as slave labor in private, for profit prison’s for much less of a “crime”. This is sick. So it’s a life ruining crime for the 99% who might get ‘busted’ by Obummer’s police farce and it’s national breaking news of a multi million dollar branding of a 1%er.

  27. It is inevitable that in the US large businesses will be opportunists toward the new public acceptance of cannabis. One analogy to this can be made by looking at the beer industry. Although Bud horse piss is everywhere, there are available craft beers to be had. Again, this is America, a capitalist enterprise. It’s kind of funny to me. I see no threat to me as a consumer of weed. Small businesses that grow it for profit may or may not have negative impacts. The greatest threat might be a reactionary government, I’m a sativa kinda guy. I’m guessing that the big commercial boom is going to be in indica – OG Kush and other couch lock strains. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

  28. I think the activist community is getting screwed by “tax, regulate and control.” I also think we activist have the responsibility to insist on a model that supports “home growers” and a decentralized system that supports US jobs. And here is my solution . . .

    MERP2. For ‘home growers’ it is structured like this:

    ** 2-4 1000 Watt HPS Bloom lamps for each adult home
    ** You have to be a Legal American Citizen to grow
    ** You can grow, gift and sell your overage without ANY (yes I said it “ANY”) taxes, regulations or government control

    I’ve put some thought into it. But if you have a better plan . . . let’s hear it. But if this makes sense to you than start spreading the word around. It really doesn’t matter so much. What matters is that we seem to be uniting under a specific theme: we don’t like the “tax, regulate and control” model.

    Isn’t it about time the Mainstream Media discusses this?
    Isn’t it about time the Moneyed Drug Reform Organizations support this?
    Isn’t it about time the Government is compelled to fully represent the American People who in 2013 compose a 58% majority supporting full untaxed, unregulated, uncontrolled
    Isn’t this the real reason I have been barred from speaking at the Ann Arbor Hash Bash for the last 2 years?


    It is up to each of us: individually and collectively.

    MERP Headquarters
    The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project (MRPP)= “MERP”
    Because Marijuana is Safer that Beer . . .
    How About We Start Treating It That Way?
    MERP Headquarters
    The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project (MRPP)= “MERP”

  29. Weed Burner on

    It will never be successful if they do, I say this mostly because it is pot users that grow great pot. Turn it over to businessmen and they will be turning out low quality products that potheads will turn their noses up at. And no successful pot grower is going to bust their ass for minimum wage to make some tyrant richer.

  30. Hello johnny, my opinion is this. It is indeed a pity that big industires are the ones who imediately want to profit from the efforts that people collectively have gained. Not fair. Said this, it must never be a law against personal autoprocuration of your medicine.

    Also, this whole ex microsoft and ex president from Mexico is a whole nutcase, stupid, hipocrit. In Mexico Cannabis is not even legal yet, not for the people of mexico, much less to export.. Rhere are lagoons and lakes of inconsistencis in the law. Of course they are talking about a possible future openness. Lets see!

    And the last thing, not less important, i think you are being a little Ignorant and about your comentary about the Mexican cannabis. The scumbag, shit, marihuana that cartels bring illegally! That is old, dry and trated with chemicals to “reduce” smell. has being long periods hidden in the desserts. Of course is shitty! Is the shittyest weed ever, cause there is nothing else, like you said. But for your ilumination, in mexico, there is already some good amsterdam quality weed grown for proffesionals, not criminals. May you one day enjoy a good spliff with some Mexican hydro and start losing some prejudices. Salutes.

  31. Pooput Park on

    fed up with all of it .take it all you greedy bastards .i don’t give a damn any morer

  32. They put us in prisons, and they destroyed our lives with felony records and stints in prisons. We lived separate lives, and had to take on necessary, Alternative Lifestyles just because we smoked marijuana. Now that WE have had to live a “secretive” life…now that we have been Activists and put our freedom on the line becoming experts in the industry, again they put us to the test

    Now that we have made the legislatures end prohibition and change old, archaic and started a wave across the world, they say that if you’ve been convicted of more than one misdemeanour, you can’t even be a farmhand, or even related to, a farmhand or anyone in the MJ Industry.

    I wish the federal government would swoop in and target every store opened by the WSLCB forcing them to get out of the pot business (in CO too) leaving MMJ alone. I think that Little Mr. ex-Microsoft and his buddies should spend some time locked up in the Federal Penitentiary just to show them, “what happens to boys who break the law.” Oh, they said that they were going to get away from Mexican Cartels! The WSLCB’s new Draft Rules have the same provision as MMJ in WA-ie; there is to be a system that tracks the MJ “seed to product.”

    I’ll be the first to volunteer to stop I-502-bad idea.

    Have you seen Washington State’s (WSLCB) new grid system for figuring out if you too big of a criminal to even be in the background of an entity entering the Cannabis Business?

    Well, if you’ve been/were smoking marijuana during prohibition and got arrested and convicted of it, you probably cannot legally be in the Cannabis Industry. REALLY? Some of the most brilliant educated and non-educated cannabis experts are routinely being shut out of the cannabis industry by unfair screening systems yet the liquor control board is willing to use the sweat off their backs by using their knowledge for the best methods of producing and processing when implementing policies and procedures in the production, processing and sales of cannabis.

    We know that it comes down to luck;

    Did you grow up in a state where MJ is a felony or misdemeanour?

    And, did you get caught or not?

    Has the Liquor Control Board thought to change its name?

  33. They’re coming either way might as well have them help fund the fight to end prohibition. Hell big tobacco should rot in jail but since that’s never going to happen we could use their army of lawyers to help the cause.

  34. Won’t we eventually have the inhale-able equivalent of Miller Light sold in every cannabis store from Alaska to Florida, and craft “brewers” whose locally grown and processed gourmet buds are premium quality and priced accordingly? If the use of cannabis is going to become normalized in society, it will only survive if viable economic models support it, including mass production and marketing.

  35. Pooput Park on

    i think they have a good chance ‘when you cannot find a stinkin good seed

  36. On one side i can see how corporate involvement might help speed things along. We all understand what corporate money can do. But at the same time i can see what corporate money has already done in other markets, so i don’t doubt all that will happen here also.

    Like that vid i said, by the actions of our government it has created the biggest world wide money making market that has ever existed to man and one that has not a single corporate brand name in it. Yea, i can see how that might stire up some corporate folks. Under the right laws there is a fortune to be made i have no doubt.

    With a debt of 17 trillion and a cash crop like this just setting there wide open for the world to see would i think about cashing in on it? Id say i would.

    Whatever is going to happen i just wish it would come on and happen.

  37. SteveSarich on

    Dr. Mark Kleiman, the consultant hired by the liquor control board, ripped Shively a new one (more like three or four new ones) in his own blog on “samefacts.com”. The article is entitled “The first national marijuana brand, or the first marijuana stock promotion”. The article is interesting because it’s written by the expert who was hired to make this unworkable system actually work, but then he points out in this article that anyone who plans on commercially growing or selling marijuana is likely to get an “all-expenses-paid vacation at the expense of federal taxpayers”.

    It has to make you wonder what the Liquor Control Board thinks about his comments! Is he actually advising people NOT to get a license from the LCB? That can’t make the Board very happy!

    Alison Holcomb promised that the initiative would wipe out the Mexican cartels and she has yet to comment on this plan to make these cartels the new trading partner of this form Microsoft manager….in a deal presumendly being negotiated through Vincente Fox. Is this how Holcomb envisions getting rid of the cartels? “If you can’t beat’em, join’em”?

    Only six months into this drama and we’re already getting more entertainment value out this crazyness than we ever could have expected. If you wrote this as a movie script, everyone would think that the storyline was just too unbelievable. It has Microsoft millionaires using the former Mexican president to negotiate a “trade deal” for Mexican dirt weed with the Mexican drug cartels? And they’re getting major international press coverage for their proposed plan to “own 40% of the world’s marijuana sales”? You can’t make shit like this up!

    If Johnny will send me an email, I’ll be happy to send a link to the article by Kleiman, who implies that this dog and pony media show is nothing more than an ill-thought-out illegal stock scam and calls these guys “terminally stupid and self-destructive”. I still roll on the floor laughing every time I read it.

    Steve (I told you so) Sarich
    Cannabis Action Coalition

  38. Nishi Whiteley on

    Well done Johnny Green! There is no doubt that big business is going to get in the game sooner or later. There is a tremendous amount of money on the sidelines of the market that is looking for a place to grow. No pun intended here but….the cannabis industry is going to be a good investment if/when we legalize.

    For the first couple of years after legalization there will be a tremendous amount of industry/market change. Businesses will begin and fold and fortunes will be made and lost. Big and small and everything in between will fall flat on their you know whats and others will be successful. Success and failure will both be driven by capitalization, good strategy, quality people, knowledge of the industry, business acumen, vision, luck and timeliness….or a lack there of. Ultimately however, people will buy plant material based on price or quality. There will be a business to serve them both and every customer in between. Will you want to shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or the local farmer’s market. The truth is that I shop at all three. Will you want to shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or the local farmer’s market. The truth is that I shop at all three.

    New products will emerge in food, supplements, body care, cooking, growing and so on. The will big will eat the small and wealth will be created. We will need bigger more well capitalized businesses to be able to play the pharmaceutical and nuetracuetical game.

    If I were Mr. Shively, I’d give up the idea of importing from Mexico and focus on building American agriculture while involving small to mid sized growers and surrounding myself with some sharp veterans of the cannabis industry. They are the one’s with all the know how, not him. By aligning with industry experts he could be very successful if he takes a thoughtful approach. There is a balance here that could prosper many people while making the most of the opportunity. If greed is the only motivation…. there will be trouble ahead for him. In my 17 years of business development consulting I have yet to see a project succeed long term that is motivated by greed.

  39. I think it is inevitable that big business jump into this game. I would rather they didn’t do it, but they will.

    It will help raise visibility at a great cost. We will lose the opportunity to have real change happen in society, which is what our enemies are really fighting. A war against change.

    It’s going to hurt quality, local communities, we’ve all paid in blood and time, and these neighborhoods that have traditionally been drug dealing neighborhoods deserve the right to continue to do business.

    I’m sure that it is as ugly as it has ever been. The cannabis growing trade is something that was by far safer and more above board than anything big business has planned for it.

    They’ll have people tricked into smoking research chemical infused fake pot within ten years, or “reformulated” like they do with tobacco for “safety” reasons, or legal compliance with potency standards that will be coming.

    This all instead of just becoming a sane society finally and welcoming the healing herb that prevents brain damage and wards off dementia, cancer, and gods knows what other industrial toxins are killing us today.

    Gotta keep it away from kids because why?

    I was fine, I started smoking when I was 11 years old. I’ll tell you who shouldn’t do what:

    grumpy old white farts that drink alcohol and make laws should be fucking banned.

    You should have to smoke a joint in order to legally have an opinion regarding it.

  40. theright2smoke on

    Just a question…Didn’t this kinda thing happen
    With alcohol?…And also what about Phillip Morris inc.
    Cigarettes (obviously) kill people slowly and look at the
    Tobacco industry….anyway not sure where in was
    Going with this…guess I’ll roll one…

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