As cannabis use becoming increasingly legal and socially accepted in many countries, celebrities are cashing in on this booming new industry. With updated laws in most countries emerging around CBD and THC products, marijuana is a burgeoning market with new business opportunities, and some familiar names in the entertainment industry are entering the game.
Below are celebrities profiting off of the marijuana industry. These celebrity cannapreneurs are making their love for the leaf public in a way that reflects and influences a radical shift in how we perceive cannabis use and the diversification of products generated by the green economy.
Bob Marley & family
Since his passing in 1981, Bob Marley has become a legendary figure in music history. Today, his legacy continues in the marijuana industry. The Marley family approached Privateer in early 2013 with an idea to carry on Bob Marley’s positive views regarding the effects of marijuana. Marley Natural is the official Bob Marley cannabis brand with offerings ranging from vape cartridges to pre-rolled products sold in California and Washington.
The 65-year-old became a gentleman weed farmer a few years ago after Oregon legalized cannabis use. Jim Belushi, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and brother to the late John Belushi, is dabbling in more than comedy. The actor owns Belushi’s Farm, 93 acres of land in Oregon where he and his team grow cannabis that is then sold across the state. The farm hosts weddings, events, and an annual harvest party. Now he wants Belushi Farms to go national, using the well-known Blues Brothers brand and building a serious company. The structure could vary by market, from contract production and distribution deals to more traditional licensing and royalty arrangements. Like the industry itself, Belushi's company is evolving. He's bootstrapped the effort so far but plans to raise capital. He grows and sells products under other brand names in Oregon.
Belushi says Live Nation has agreed to finance a reality TV show about his new life as a weed-preneur. It's due out next year on cable, he says, declining to name the network. Belushi and his 93-acre farm along the Rogue River outside Medford, Ore., already were the subject of a short series on the DIY Network.
When you think of celebrities and pot, Snoop would be on most people’s list. Snoop Dogg is a well-known proponent of cannabis, and his new Colorado-based line of products trades on that personal brand. In 2015, he co-founded Leafs by Snoop, a company specializing in cannabis flower and edibles, in partnership with Tweed, a subsidiary of Canopy Growth. Based in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canopy Growth operates 10 licensed marijuana and hemp production sites with over 4.3 million square feet of production capacity. According to founder Snoop Dogg, “Leafs By Snoop is truly the first mainstream cannabis brand in the world and proud to be a pioneer.”
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola, the six-time Academy Award-winning director behind “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”, has stepped out from behind the camera to invest in the marijuana industry. In November 2018, he released a cannabis kit inspired by his wine business called The Grower’s Series. Three different cannabis flower strains are grown organically and are packed in a wine-bottle shaped container and sold in California. The limited-edition series comes in a small tin designed to look like one of Coppola’s wine bottles, and is decidedly high-end: It’s priced at $99 for the three grams of flowers, a glass pipe, rolling papers, and a matchbox.
Cameron Jibril Thomaz (a.k.a. Wiz Khalifa) is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, and actor. Khalifa is also a cannapreneur with his line of merchandise, app and cannabis strain. On his website, he sells the 420 Collection, cannabis-themed merchandise; his “simulation game” Weed Farm, available for download on iTunes and Google Play, teaches players how to plant, grow and harvest cannabis. The rapper has partnered with Colorado-based RiverRock Cannabis to put his name on all things marijuana, including a strain all his own, called Khalifa Kush.
Melissa Etheridge is a Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist. Etheridge decided to become a cannapreneur because of a lack of representation of middle-aged women in the cannabis industry and her personal experience with medical marijuana. After undergoing chemotherapy treatment following her 2004 breast cancer diagnosis, the country singer became a big voice for medical marijuana advocacy, and in a 2013 CNN editorial even credited the plant with helping her survive chemo. The following year, Etheridge announced she was creating her line of marijuana-infused wine, called Know Label, to help other people suffering from debilitating medical conditions.
In 1986, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in the world at the age of 20. After years of using marijuana to manage his pain, Mike Tyson is now managing his cannabis empire. Yes, Tyson is expanding his brand beyond the boxing ring and into the world of marijuana. In 2016, he co-founded Tyson Holistic Holdings, a company that promotes the health benefits of marijuana. Under this, Tyson Ranch was born. Tyson plans to create a 40-acre ranch that will be a “smoker’s retreat” with a hotel, campsites. In December 2017, he broke ground on his 40 acre Tyson Ranch, a cannabis resort that will include an edibles factory, amphitheater, campsites and a “Tyson University” for those hoping to learn more about marijuana.
After retirement, I had two surgeries and they gave me obituates. They would wear me out and have me thinking crazy. I started smoking marijuana and getting better effects. It was just what I needed, and I never knew it.
Jimmy Buffett has licensed his ‘Coral Reefer’ brand to Surterra, a line of cannabis products including vapes, edibles and lotions. The health and wellness products are designed to help consumers improve their mood, relieve pain and alleviate symptoms from chemotherapy. Georgia-based Surterra is currently licensed in Florida and Texas, and plans to build out cultivation space in the former state while conducting research trials on cannabinoid treatment for issues such as pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the Journal‘s report, he was approached by other cannabis ventures but opted for Surterra because of its medical, rather than recreational, focus. Jimmy Buffett has been playing with the Coral Reefer Band for well over four decades now, so it’s less than surprising to see the veteran singer-songwriter finally getting into the weed business.
Richard Cheech and Tommy Chong
The Grammy Award-winning duo best known as Cheech & Chong are famous for portraying characters who smoke frequently, but they have ties to marijuana in real life too. Tommy Chong says he has beaten prostate cancer with a combination of cannabis use and a special diet. He also partnered with Marisol Therapeutics to open a dispensary in Colorado. The comedic pair own two separate lines of cannabis products: Chong’s Choice and Cheech’s Stash.
The country singer, who has worked with marijuana advocacy group National Oraglinzation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), rolled out a menu of marijuana products in 2015 under his Wille's Reserve label, including Willie's Weed, which is grown in Colorado and Washington. The announcement comes on April 20, or 4/20, unofficially declared as National Weed Day. Upon launching the brand, which made its debut with a pro-pot music video featuring Merle Haggard, Nelson told Rolling Stone that the company could continue to promote environmental and social issues related to "the gradual end of marijuana prohibition across America." The products are sold everywhere marijuana is legal.
Watch the video below Nelson discussing his weed brand
Whoopi Goldberg made history as the first African-American woman to earn an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, joining the short list of performers that hold all of those prestigious awards. The actress Whoopi Goldberg has cofounded a cannabis startup for women. The company is called Whoopi & Maya, after Goldberg and her cofounder Maya Elisabeth, who’s been running medical marijuana company Om Edibles since 2008. The women are launching four products to help relieve period cramps and discomfort. Sort of a “menstrual survival kit,” the products range from edibles, tinctures or liquid extracts, rubs and a bath soak. All are infused with cannabis.
In a candid column for The Cannabist, Goldberg revealed the importance of the part cannabis has played in her life, in relieving pain and managing stress.
Goldberg is on a mission to spread awareness of medicinal cannabis, and the launch of Whoopi & Maya represents her boldest venture yet.
Even Captain Picard isn’t immune to the pains of aging. Stewart is an investor in, and joined the board of, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies in England, after years of using medical cannabis to treat his severe arthritis. He admits that he hasn’t had any negative side effects from using the cannabis and suggested that using alternative anti-inflammatory medicines like Advil, Aleve and Naproxen could be harsh on the liver and cause acid reflux. The company invests in research dedicated to developing treatments for several health issues, including inflammatory diseases, cancer, pain management and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and MS.
These celebrities have not only stepped out of the cannabis closet by admitting their use of the plant, but they have also created businesses that connect their brands to cannabis products. In the past, they either consumed cannabis away from the public eye or did so publicly, as an affront to existing laws.
Legal cannabis offers practically endless startup opportunities for those with the drive to innovate. If the pot can be sold legally where you are, you could explore opening a retail store focusing on cannabis oils or edibles.
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