Startup Hopes to Sell Weed Online

PlainView Systems founder enables pot dealers, but doesn't deal himself

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    You won't be able to purchase pot for individual consumption, necessarily, but PlainView Systems is another step towards legitimizing the business.

    Sonoma, Calif. resident John Lee has a vision -- that the legitimization of the cultivation and sale of marijuana is progressing apace, and that the multi-billion dollar business wants online tools just like any other.

    So Lee created PlainView Systems, a site devoted to help marijuana producers and marijuana distributors come together, and entrepreneurs get the tools and support they need to be successful.

    One look at the site, and obvious jokes aside, it is clearly all business.

    Under California law, it is legal to grow and sell marijuana for medical purposes. But with the trade still largely in a legal gray area, as it is still illegal on the national level, issues of incorporation, taxation and licensing are fraught with complications.

    Lee points out that he's not in the marijuana business himself, but saw an opportunity to help navigate the paperwork, bureaucracy and connect with other businesses.

    "It's a business where everyone is very, very paranoid," Lee told CNNMoney -- and no, he's not talking about the effects of the drug.

    A bill introduced in the California state Assembly, AB 390, by San Francisco Democrat Tom Ammiano is working its way through the state legislature, having recently passed the body's public safety committee, and would provide for the legal trade in marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes and provide for that trade to be taxed, potentially earning the state billions in revenue.

    Oaksterdam University's Richard Lee is also collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana sales in the state, and reportedly has enough to qualify but wants to make doubly sure.  The measure would be put to voters in November.

    On the federal level, Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the Department of Justice would not pursue trade in the drug as long as it was conducted according to state laws.

    Jackson West isn't a libertarian, but really, it's pretty clear criminalizing pot costs the state more than it earns.