The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward making lots of money. That's Jamen Shively's thesis, anyway.
The former Microsoft manager, 45, is embarking on a publicity tour for the marijuana enterprise he's happy to label the "Starbucks" of pot. "Yes, we can" is for Shively "yes, we are big marijuana" -- and he's getting ready for what he believes is The Next Big Thing: legal pot -- everywhere.
With his trusty sidekick, former Mexican president Vicente Fox -- a partner of Shively's in Diego Pellicer, Inc., the nation's first "premium marijuana" retail brand -- in tow, Shively is in San Francisco on Monday. Following a "summit" on marijuana legalization, Fox and Shively will appear at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel to talk about how to make all this a reality.
Is he a visionary -- or, in the words of one expert, a greedhead? Probably both.
Monday's stop appears to be Shively's first in California. That makes sense: He's had press conferences in Seattle, where voters approved the legalization of marijuana for adults in 2012. He's announced plans for a network of shops in Washington and in Colorado, which also voted to legalize small amounts of cannabis for adults.
In California, of course, the situation is different. Voters shot down Proposition 19 in 2010, which would have made the Golden State the first to end cannabis prohibition (the plant used to be legal). A large reason: the federal government. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged to "vigorously enforce" the federal ban on weed if Prop. 19 passed.
Despite that, he wants to build up to 100 legal pot shops in California, he's told reporters in the past. Just how does he plan to do that, when medical marijuana is in trouble enough with the federal government?
He appears to have a plan, or at least a man with a plan: appearing alongside Fox and Shively will be Steve DeAngelo,
who by repute whose medical marijuana dispensary, by repute, sells more weed than anyone else on the planet (at least legally). DeAngelo, CEO of Harborside Health Center, is also slated to appear at the 2 p.m. noon press conference at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel near Union Square.
So are the two joining forces? Might be too early for that, as DeAngelo's Harborside outlets in San Jose and Oakland are in the midst of a year-old court fight against the federal Department of Justice, which wants to seize the properties where the dispensaries operate.
It's worth noting that other Shively partners have already walked away. But if it's anyone with nothing to fear from the feds, it's DeAngelo, who has famously gone very public with his business before.
UPDATE: DeAngelo cannot attend, a Harborside spokeswoman informed us late Friday. What's more, DeAngelo and Shively are not entering into any kind of business partnership: DeAngelo was there to speak about the effect of marijuana decriminalization on Mexican drug cartels.