Olympic gold medallist snowboarder Ross Rebagliati plans to launch a string of medical marijuana stores branded Ross’ Gold and then sell franchises depending on his stores’ success, Rebagliati told Business in Vancouver January 23.
Rebagliati won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in snowboarding in 1998 and was temporarily stripped of that medal after testing positive for the active ingredient in marijuana, THC.
He aims to open a flagship store in Whistler this spring and then roll out secondary storefronts in Vancouver and Toronto.
“Our vision is that, when you walk in, there will be a coffee shop at the front and at the back it will be only for those 18 years and older,” said Rebagliati, who is CEO of the venture. “That’s where there will be the paraphernalia, the medicinal marijuana dispensary and a doctor’s office.”
Customers would make appointments with the doctor, get a prescription for marijuana and then get that prescription filled on-site.
“There’s already, like, three head shops in Whistler, in the village, so there’s no government approval needed,” he said.
Rebagliati has been a successful real-estate investor for several years, flipping more than half a dozen properties in Whistler, where he now lives. His short-lived real-estate development career ended soon after the economic downturn hit, when tycoon Donald Trump pulled out of a project that he and Rebagliati had planned.
Rebagliati’s medical marijuana venture comes in the lead-up to the Canadian government’s slated privatization of the medical marijuana industry.
New laws are expected to be introduced at the end of March and would go into effect in spring 2014.
Rebagliati estimates the potential value of medical marijuana in Canada at $5 billion annually and in the U.S. at $17 billion per year.
Rebagliati’s partner in Ross’ Gold is Patrick Smyth, who founded Ocean Eclipse Venture Capital Inc. and will be president.
The duo have lined up several silent investors and are not seeking any new investment, Smyth told BIV.