Former Microsoft exec announces first national network of pot businesses

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SEATTLE - Former Mexican President Vicente Fox headlined a Seattle announcement Thursday for what entrepreneurs call the first national brand of retail marijuana.

Fox is an advocate of marijuana legalization and calls Initiative 502 in Washington State "a game changer."

“The (drug) war has been lost all along and it has been lost again and again,” said Fox.

Fox is a friend of former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively, now the CEO of Diego Pellicer, a company named for his great-grandfather.

Shively said he has acquired rights to Northwest Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana access point in Seattle. He did not explain the arrangement he made with the owner and provided no financial details.

Shively said he is close to a similar deal in Colorado, which has also legalized recreational marijuana.

Shively said he plans to open dozens of marijuana stores in each state, and even more medical marijuana outlets in California.

Shively said recreational marijuana retailers will be branded Diego Pellicer. The name of a national medical marijuana brand will be announced next month.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Shively said he will not transport it between states and claims he has come up with a "risk mitigated investment vehicle" to protect investors. He would not provide details.

Shively said the company will invest hundreds of millions over the next three years and open a Seattle headquarters employing 1,000 people.

Fox said he is not an investor in the new company.

Visit our section on legal pot in Washington state here.