Sturges Karban grins, his teeth as pin-point perfect as you’d expect from someone who’s worked in Hollywood, rubbing shoulders with the Clooneys, Eastwoods and, sadly, Weinsteins, for years.
“Effectively, I am the CEO of a criminal enterprise,” he says. “That’s America for you, and it’s not going to stop me. Or anyone else.” Karban, 49, a former investment banker who’s also worked in music publishing for motion pictures, is now the CEO of MJIC, one of more than 30,000 companies that are aiming to cash in on the booming cannabis industry in America and, he predicts, the budding one that’s set to take off in the rest of the world.
Strictly speaking, under US federal law, what he’s doing – by arranging for the distribution and sale of what is a still Schedule 1 drug, like heroin and cocaine (MJIC is investing in various pot businesses, including dispensaries, but its main focus is on distribution and compliance) – is illegal. But then, gambling is against federal law in America, too, and no-one in Las Vegas seems to mind.
While US Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to rail against the evil weed, the rest of the country is leading the world in changing attitudes to the drug, with eight states now having legalised it for recreational use – effectively making it as freely available as beer – with California, the world’s sixth-largest economy, joining the party on 1 January this year. (Medicinal use and supply of cannabis is already legal in 29 US states, covering more than 60% of the country’s population.)