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Alaska's former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel to lead marijuana business

Marijuana may be the reason former U.S. senator and onetime Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel next returns to Alaska.

Cannabis Sativa Inc. says Gravel will head KUSH, a company that will work to develop and market "innovative new cannabis products" for recreational and medical marijuana markets in the U.S.

The company uses a business model of developing marijuana products, then connecting with local cannabis producers at the state level to produce and sell the product. According to a press release, the company is currently looking to develop a marijuana lozenge called the "Kubby," named after Steve Kubby, chairman of the board for Cannabis Sativa Inc.

Gravel said in a phone interview Tuesday he has been an "aggressive board member" for Cannabis Sativa Inc., eventually leading to his current position as head of KUSH.

Gravel, 84, served as one of Alaska's two U.S. senators from 1969 to 1981. In 2008, he sought the Democratic presidential nomination. He's been a critic of U.S. drug policy since the Nixon era.

Gravel said KUSH is looking to enter the Alaska market. He said he was "very much" pleased that Alaskans voted in November to pass Ballot Measure 2, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

The former senator, who now lives in Burlingame, California, said the company would work with local marijuana activists and longtime Alaska friends to watch how the marijuana laws are crafted. He said the company hopes to hire a local attorney to help guide them through the complicated legalities surrounding marijuana.

"We don't want to make any mistakes with the law in this regard," Gravel said. "It's new, and it's fraught with controversy."

He expects the process of getting product to Alaska will be similar to the process in Washington and Colorado, where they contract with a local producer who is licensed to sell the product. Still, with more than a year before people can even register to obtain a business license in Alaska under the language of the initiative, it will be a long while before KUSH operates in the state.

"We don't have to wait until the details of the law are in place," he said. "But we won't be able do anything until the law is final in Alaska."