Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 12, 2010
He went bust in Silicon Valley, now helps internet weed traders

Last April, John Lee, a 25-year tech industry professional, was laid off from his job as director of partner integration for an on-line music and video service. In the downtrodden Silicon Valley, he had few prospects to turn to.

So Lee turned to another passion: medical marijuana.

Now he has risen again as the CEO of an on-line business-to-business network that is taking pot trading to the web. Lee's PlainView Systems bills itself as a "Compassionate Care Marketplace."

He charges annual fees of $1,200 and up for medical marijuana dispensaries, depending on their size, and $300 for patient growers to connect on-line "to purchase or trade medicine."

His site, which claims 44,000 unique page views a month, also works with cannabis businesses on invoices and tax forms.

Lee, a Sonoma County resident and a medical user, says he never sees or touches any of the product that is distributed by patients and bought by dispensaries through his site.

He says simply, "I came up with a plan to buy, trade and sell cannabis on-line that is totally acceptable."

Attorney General Jerry Brown has declared that patients with doctor's recommendations and state seller's permits can be legally compensated for labor and expenses for cultivating and providing pot to patient-run collectives - the business model for most dispensaries.

Lee seems to be in the clear for merely providing the on-line hook-up.

And he has bigger plans.

He is an emerging activist. He speaks at medical marijuana conferences and trade shows. He advocates forming regional growers' unions to allow small marijuana cultivators to survive and thrive if pot is legalized in California for all adults 21 and over.

If that happens, he is hoping to thrive as well. He envisions his new venture as the eBay of weed.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.