Hip hop artist and entrepreneur Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter made headlines earlier this month by entering the cannabis space via a multi-year deal with California's Caliva as its Chief Brand Strategist. Caliva said Jay-Z will focus on creative direction for the brand as well as outreach efforts.
Jay-Z will also "focus on and work to increase the economic participation of citizens returning from incarceration - many of who are not seeing the monetary benefits of legalization - through advocacy, job training, and overall employee and workforce development," according to Caliva.
Some believe the merger shows the benefits of diverse company leadership, while others considered the move a sound business decision for Jay-Z. Caliva’s accolades include 3.5 times year-over-year growth with over 250 retailers carrying its products.
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Duncan Levin, a cannabis lawyer and managing partner at Tucker Levin, PLLC said entrepreneurs of Jay-Z's status must consider the regulatory issues before entering into a deal.
"The cannabis industry is more than just growing plants and creating products. [It’s] about following the incredible number of regulations involved,” said Levin. “I have no doubt that these were considered by Jay-Z and his team in his decision to partner with Caliva."
Despite the pledge to focus on similar efforts, some questioned the move by Jay-Z to partner with a company that isn't minority-run after his years of support for criminal justice reform and minority-owned ventures.
Kieryn Wang is a five-year cannabis marketing professional and she said the cannabis industry is now paying more attention to equity and social justice measures, but such initiatives haven't always been “seamless or successful.” The addition of Jay-Z could help address such issues.
“Jay-Z and Caliva joining forces means that Jay-Z will get a better understanding of the industry and will be able to utilize Caliva's resources and Caliva will be sure to give Jay-Z the access he needs to make the biggest difference with his work," said Wang.
She did note the conflict in scrutinizing the partnership.
“Of course it's not fair that people with more public visibility need to be more responsible in their choices, but that's, unfortunately, a part of being famous and rich. There's more scrutiny on your actions and your decisions," she said.
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