Bob Marley, the late reggae superstar whose name is virtually synonymous with pot, will soon have his own marijuana label.
Marley's family has joined with Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm focused on marijuana products, to develop Marley Natural brand weed. Marley Natural will offer "heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains," the very same pot Marley himself is said to have enjoyed. The company will also sell creams, lotions, and Marley-branded accessories.
“My dad would be so happy to see people understanding the healing power of the herb,” said Cedella Marley, the musician's daughter, in a statement announcing the launch. “He viewed the herb as something spiritual that could awaken our well-being, deepen our reflection, connect us to nature and liberate our creativity.”
Cedella also said an official Marley marijuana brand would be an “authentic way to honor his legacy by adding his voice to the conversation about cannabis and helping end the social harms caused by prohibition.”
Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, told the Guardian that Marley is probably the celebrity most associated with marijuana. Pot products named after the reggae star, including strains of cannabis, are already being sold without the family's approval. The executive believes the Marley Brand has the potential to the be the Starbucks of weed and reel in a sizable percentage of what is now a $1.53 billion domestic market for legal pot. AdWeek speculates that if legalization trends continue, that market could grow to $10.2 billion by 2019, and Greenwave Advisors, a marijuana-focused analysis firm, estimates lecit American marijuana sales could total as much as $35 billion by 2020.
But Marley Natural isn't the only brand trying to become the "next Starbucks" of pot. AdWeek's Robert Clara notes a variety of brands are working to claim that same moniker, with companies like DixieElixirs, "the 800-lb. gorilla of the space," producing slickly branded edible products that "would not look out of place on the shelves of Whole Foods."
If it seems surprising that more celebrities haven't leapt into the pot branding space, it's because there are still plenty of hurdles to launching a marijuana business. While an increasing number of states have legalized marijuana for some sector of the populace—Kennedy noted that 70% of Americans now live in a state where cannabis in some form is legal—regulation still severely limits opportunities for business.
“You have 20 states with some form of legalization, a number of them very restrictive, and a small customer base. So there’s not a national opportunity," Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told AdWeek.
Another issue is that marijuana cannot be transported across state lines, making centralized distribution out of the question. Clara writes that DixieElixirs has resorted to licensing the brand to local growers in various states, a strategy Marley Natural could potentially replicate.