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Web gambling pioneer sets sights on Internet pot

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Medical Marijuana

TORONTO, Canada (Reuters) -- Warren Eugene, a pioneer of Internet gambling, sees a lucrative new on-line frontier in a Canadian law that allows people with certain illnesses to grow and smoke their own marijuana.

Eugene, 43, says his firm, Amigula/Medical Cannabis Inc., plans to grow and sell the drug to people authorized to use it for medical purposes, and perhaps to some people not medically authorized. He wants Amigula/Medical to become an international, publicly listed concern.

"This flower power has a new opportunity for resurgence. This is what really interested me," Eugene, who spends most of his time in Nassau, Bahamas, said from a Toronto hotel room.

Eugene, a Canadian and definitely no hippie, says he's never smoked pot and is not interested in the grass-roots movement to legalize the drug. But he sees a money-making opportunity.

His venture is being funded with $5 million of his own money. He wants to raise another $7 million from investors.

It will initially target medical users but says the market could grow if Canada confirms legislation, currently under review, that would mean the possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis (just over half an ounce) would not be a criminal offense.

"This plant [cannabis] has such a fragrance that's ready to bloom and bleed into the marketplace, so to speak, and produce an elaborate and remarkable return for investors," said Eugene, who founded the first Internet casino at Among Eugene's potential customers is Marisa Zaza, 27, who has been licensed by the Canadian government to receive medical marijuana to relieve pain and swelling caused by an inoperable lump in her breast.

"I wasn't able to keep any food down. So I would end up smoking a bowl, or smoking a joint to try to calm the nausea that the painkillers would cause," Zaza said.

Canada says Zaza and 400,000 others can use medical marijuana, Eugene wants to tap 40,000 to start. If each buys C$1,000 (U.S. $765) worth of marijuana a year, annual sales could reach C$40 million, he said, adding that he will sell the cannabis at C$3 a gram, less than half the street price.

He plans to grow the marijuana in Vancouver and Ontario and sell it to people approved by the government through the Web site Buyers will receive their cannabis via courier. He intends to approach doctors and also sell in other countries whose governments allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

He wants to list his company on stock markets in Denmark, London, Amsterdam, Canada, Australia and Paris.

Eugene already has a stock market vehicle. Shares of Applied Computer Technology Inc. are trading on Nasdaq's over-the-counter market after a reverse takeover in which Warren sold 51 percent of his private Canadian firm Medical Cannabis Inc., in exchange for controlling interest the Colorado-based technology company.

Medical Cannabis Inc. was formed in September and owns a patent for a marijuana patch -- similar to the nicotine patches that smokers use to help them quit.

Applied Computer Technology will be renamed Amigula and should soon start trading under a new ticker symbol, he said.

"If marijuana works, I am going to go with opium next."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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