There are currently two founding members who are still active within ICCCO. The rest are invited back.
After serving as Corporate Strategy Manager for Microsoft and several other corporate and entrepreneurial roles, Jamen began to focus intensively on ending world hunger.
To end world hunger, Jamen estimated that at a minimum $50 billion per year would be needed. While he was puzzling over how to raise this amount of money, along came the legalization of cannabis in the State of Washington.
Given the massive potential of the legalized cannabis and hemp industry, Jamen chose to jump in and build a brand and business with the potential to grow to be a multi-billion dollar concern. From inception, Jamen committed 100% of his share of the profits from the business to be donated to permanently eradicating world hunger. The name of his business? The same as the name of his great grandfather, Diego Pellicer.
Early History of the Diego Pellicer Brand & Company
Written: November 15, 2013, one year after inception of the brand
by Jamen Shively, great grandson of Diego Pellicer
On the night of November 15, 2012, I drafted a brand concept for “Pellicer Farms”, using the black & white photograph of Diego Pellicer. A friend and I had been thinking about getting into the industry, and the next day we met and mapped out what it would take to build a national and eventually international brand of premium cannabis, based on the Pellicer Farms brand (or something close to it). The opportunity was simply too big to pass up, and we had what it took to make a serious go of it. Several days later, we changed the name to Diego Pellicer, and the rest is history in the making:
Two weeks later, on November 30, we held our first television interview, which you can watch here:
The objective of our early media was to achieve first to mind (per the book the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, which I highly recommend), in the nascent category of legalized, adult-use cannabis. With that in mind, Alan Valdes invited me to New York, and three weeks later we did several national media hits, such as this one on Fox Business with Lauren Simonetti:
Consider how far we have come: In one year, we have gone from concept to number one international brand, in a market which is measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide. Which explains part of our excitement a year ago today: Here we were looking at a massive international market, already in existence, in search of a brand, and in search of an exit strategy from the failed policy of prohibition which has caused so much harm in the world. And the largest slice of this pie was literally up for grabs! From my days as Corporate Strategy Manager at Microsoft, I knew that it would not lay unclaimed for long. And we had what it would take to grab it:
- We had the brand, the legacy, and the story: Diego Pellicer
- Over time we have assembled a world-class team of entrepreneurs and experts spanning key disciplines such as cannabis cultivation, cannabis retail, law, drug policy & reform, engineering, design, marketing, finance, and mass media, among other disciplines.
- We have the pedigreed public face, your servant, willing to get on camera and tell the story in a professional yet suitably engaging way
All of the above combined to create an “opposite” to how the cannabis industry was broadly perceived as of 12 months ago, which included an extremely diverse mix of growers and traffickers spanning multiple countries, activists, advocates, botanists, patients, and lovers of cannabis of all stripes. And whatever that mix was, it turned out that Diego Pellicer began to represent roughly the opposite of the center of mass of that mix.
The masses, it turned out, were hungry for this new “opposite” to a lot of the negative perceptions they had acquired about cannabis (most of which were unfounded). And Diego has delivered, as exemplified by the power and popularity of this 3 minute video produced by National Geographic, filmed in late March 2013:
Great brands are built, not in the marketplace, but in the mind.
Early last summer, we made world news when we invited former Mexican President Vicente Fox to join us at our May 30 press conference in Seattle, announcing our acquisition of the Northwest Patient Resource Center headed by John Davis, and our plans to build a national and eventually international brand of cannabis:
We were interviewed multiple times by the media in the coming days and weeks, such as this with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:
That show was entitled “Creating a National Brand to Sell Pot”, and is a good example of how the meme by the same name spread. Listen to how Wolf Blitzer pauses at the very beginning before saying, “a national brand to sell . . . marijuana”. He says it as if it is something dirty or bad . . . and that just goes to show how quickly perceptions have been changing. May 30, as history will attest, was a major milestone in changing public perceptions in the U.S. and around the world. Among dozens of major media mentions and stories around the world, President Fox and I appeared on the front page of the next morning’s Seattle Times.
Most importantly, May 30 represented a watershed event for Mexico, and a major inflection point in U.S. cannabis policy dialogue: Prior to that date, there had been essentially zero media coverage on the topic of legalization of cannabis in Mexico. Mexican journalists had been well represented among the approximately 100,000 Mexicans who disappeared and/or were killed in the drug war since 2006. With the May 30 press conference, the dam broke and public dialogue on the topic in Mexico was ignited, and has been ongoing ever since. Whatever path Mexico chooses to go down as far as cannabis legalization and ending the Drug War in their country, May 30 will forever stand out as the turning point which got the country talking publicly about its greatest problem, and one of its greatest opportunities for change. May 30 was also the first time in the history of cannabis that a world leader traveled to the U.S. specifically to demand that we change our policy on cannabis prohibition. What better country than Mexico, and what better leader than President Fox.
President Fox and I went on to organize a total of four separate events on cannabis last summer, where President Fox was either keynote speaker or co-host, including two symposiums on the medical use of cannabis, and an international symposium cosponsored by Centro Fox and Diego Pellicer held in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, July 18 – 20, with 20 prominent international delegates from throughout the Americas and Europe. These included Dr. Julio Frenk (Dean of the School of Public Health at Harvard University), Dr. Michael Osborne (President of the Strang Cancer Prevention Institute), and Dr. Bob Epstein (retired Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). (I’m proud to add that the latter two Doctors serve on Diego’s Advisory Board):
As of late summer, we had become a mainstay of national media coverage and debate on the topics of legalization and the business of cannabis, as exemplified by this August MSNBC interview with former drug czar and retired General Barry McCaffrey, and Washington Post Columnist Clinton Yates:
Because there has been so much press coverage on Diego (and because there is no other national brand of retail cannabis in the running), the top two links resulting from a Google search for “premium marijuana” are about Diego. Ditto for a search for “brand of marijuana”. Diego is quickly becoming synonymous with legalized cannabis. For example, we were the only company mentioned in the historic U.S. Senate Hearings on cannabis on September 10:
By early Fall, it became clear that our story and our plans were growing in complexity and depth. People wanted to know more. We found ourselves on long phone conversations explaining what Diego is, who we are, and where we are headed. So we put together a 70 minute webinar detailing all of the preceding, with great visuals (pending re-uploading)
As more and more reporters watched the webinar, more sophisticated articles such as this one began to appear: The #1 most viewed article on ABC Money on 10/28
While great brands are built in the mind, the marketplace is where we make our money. With that in mind, we again made history this past week by announcing the first store to be built specifically for implementing Washington’s I-502.
All in one year.
In subsequent years, I and others have shifted focus from “big marijuana” to “big legalization”. This has inevitably put us at odds with the criminal drug cartels:
Over time, my rage at the cartels has shifted to grief. Why on earth are we tolerating this?
Working through my grief, I finally got into action. This is history in the making. Enjoy, and please jump in! The water is warm.