Meet the new pot entrepreneurs

Washington State's budding marijuana industry has drawn entrepreneurs from all careers and backgrounds.

The seasoned capitalist

marijuana industry john davis
  • Entrepreneur: John Davis
  • Background: Military construction contractor
  • Weed-related job: Dispensary owner

He currently runs a medical marijuana dispensary, but John Davis can't wait to join Washington's recreational-use industry later this year.

It's an environment in which Davis thinks he'll thrive. His leg-up on competition? He's a veteran dealmaker who spent years as a project manager of a construction firm. He thinks many in the industry are amateurs.

Unlike other dispensary owners, Davis doesn't get caught up with the typical medical marijuana lingo, which calls pot sales "donations" and supply networks "collectives."

"I sell cannabis retail," he said flatly.

His knowledge of commerce also helps him avoid sky-high federal taxes. A provision in the tax code, known as 280E, prevents anyone from writing off the act of selling illicit drugs. So, Davis keeps employees busy packaging and consulting. They're not transactions, so he writes off the time of that labor.

He also maintains careful procedure.

To avoid attention from federal law enforcement, he employs strict rules to ensure every gram of cannabis is accounted for.

To combat criminals, he uses his experience as a military building contractor to establish security measures -- like cameras and tripwires -- that account for employee theft and outside robbers.

"We have to be more professional than the rest of the world, because we're held to higher scrutiny," he said.

  @Jose_Pagliery - Last updated May 06 2013 08:31 AM ET

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