Medical-Marijuana "Patch" Is the Latest Idea in Entrepreneurial Free-for-All

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As evident for some time now, medical marijuana has become a multimillion-dollar industry, drawing an array of entrepreneurs and hustlers along with hippie growers and cancer survivors. The latest would-be pot millionaire? Jim Alekson, a Seattleite who says he's previously worked in real estate but has now turned to developing a medical-marijuana "patch," akin to the nicotine patch (pictured at right).

Alekson announced late last month that he had acquired a patent for the pot patch. Interviewed by SW, he says the patch had actually been invented some time ago by a New Mexican Native American named Walter Cristobal. "It didn't seem to get any traction," Alekson says, who called Cristobal "not the most sophisticated" when it comes to business.

But Alekson apparently thinks highly of his own marketing skills. He says he intends to make TETRACAN, the name he's given the patch, as synonymous with medical marijuana as Kleenex is with tissue. "Everything we do will be aimed at trying to get the word 'marijuana' out of the medical-marijuana industry," he says.

Hmm, judging by the zillion businesses that have sprung up to meet an ever-increasing demand (see estimated Washington figures), it seems as if the word "marijuana" is a marketer's dream. Alekson contends, though, that the word carries a stigma that turns off some potential users, as well as politicians and cops.

Whether he can make good on his grand plans is another question. He says he's only now starting to look for manufacturing facilities. He refuses to disclose the names of his partners or investors. And it's hard to find out much about his track record--including, he says, a California development of "hydroponic green houses" used for vegetables--from the websites he refers SW to ( and www.themedicinewheelproject.blogspot).

Still, a medical-marijuana patch "is an intriguing idea," says Philip Dawdy, spokesperson for the trade group known as the Washington Cannabis Association. "We're seeing an explosion of delivery methods." Pot edibles, tinctures, sprays, now a patch: It's all good, says Dawdy--provided TETRACAN "can get some studies behind it."

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