The list of musicians hawking cannabis products is a long one. Willie Nelson, Margo Price, Snoop Dogg and Berner are just some of the names that come to mind.
Most recently, Carlos Santana and the family of the late Jerry Garcia aligned themselves with cannabis brands. Whether these rockstar-emblazoned items lead to an uptick in sales remains to be seen, since that sort of trend is difficult to track.
Why Celeb Cannabis Brands Might Be 'Duds': An adoring fanbase doesn't necessarily equal sales, according to 1933 Industries TGIFF CEO Paul Rosen. For him, it's all about authenticity.
"I don’t have any data per se that suggest that consumers gravitate towards brand with recognizable IP, but it's fair to say Snoop's brand is one of the better sellers in the market, but he has been a champion for cannabis for his entire life," Rosen told Benzinga.
"I would argue mostly they are duds with some exceptions where authenticity is part of the celebrity brand."
For example, Tommy Chong — who appeared at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in August — spoke at length about his lifelong cannabis ambassadorship. His association with weed and pot humor is renown, as half of the comedy duo "Cheech and Chong" and guest star on "That 70s Show."
"So Snoop and Tommy Chong and Willie Nelson and Marley can move product, as they are associated with cannabis in the public eye," Rosen said.
"By contrast, the Gene Simmons deal with Invictus was a disaster [because] Gene had no authenticity."
Recall last year when Invictus MD Strategies Inc. GENE IVITF formed a joint venture with Kiss bassist Simmons to develop a line of non-alcoholic, CBD-infused beverages for distribution in the U.S. and Canada.
Simmons was never a proponent of the plant. With Santana and Garcia, the scenario is entirely different.
Santana's Cannabis Deal: In January, investment firm Left Coast Ventures announced that legendary guitarist Carlos Santana will also be venturing into the burgeoning marijuana industry.
However, the legendary guitarist seems to be lending more than just his name to the endeavor. The voice behind such chart-toppers as "Maria Maria" and "Black Magic Woman" shared the news via Facebook back in September after he offically trademarked the name "Mirayo," which means “my ray.”
"The Mirayo story begins in Mexico. My mother would make traditional remedies in salves of cannabis to relieve various pains and symptoms. For us cannabis was a part of life," Santana said. "It was medicine — it will always be medicine. From early on, I recognized cannabis as sacred [and] made from a beam of sunlight. This is where we got Mirayo."
Santana's products became available for sale on shelves on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Santa Rosa, California-based Left Coast announced the strain types and product packaging, including flower, pre-rolls and topicals with traditional formulations.
Left Coast had already secured rights to use the likeness of Bob Marley on various cannabis products, as well as Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
Another company, multistate operator Holistic Industries Inc., snagged the rights to use the likeness of Garcia — the principal Grateful Dead songwriter — in its lineup of items.
Jerry Garcia Goes Legal: Holistic CEO Josh Genderson appeared at the most recent Benzinga Capital Cannabis Conference and discussed his partnering with the Garcia family on new product.
"We've been approached by a million different companies and celebrity management groups — and we've said 'no' for years and years," he said, without revealing any famous names.
When asked about Garcia's "authenticity," Genderson said the "Friend of the Devil" songwriter would be on the "Mount Rushmore of cannabis" if there was one, alongside Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Marley.
"My team is very passionate about the Grateful Dead and about Jerry and his music," Genderson said, citing the vastness of Garcia's fanbase.
"There's 65-year-old bankers, 22 year-old college students and everybody in between — farmers and venture capitalists — and this man has become almost godlike to people."
Genderson also expects fellow Deadheads to be especially critical of any product that bears Garcia's likeness.
To help meet that scrutiny, Washington, D.C.-based Holistic partnered with Garcia's family and incorporated their input.
"We've been lucky to work with the family and really dial in Jerry's family and what they would want to be represented," Genderson said. "And we're really excited to be launching a brand that's true to him, true to his family and the quality to our product."
What's Next For Celebrity Cannabis: For anyone interested in following other musician-cannabis collaborations, keep an eye on Wiz Khalifa. The rapper, who recently parted ways with The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. FIRE SPRWF, will likely look for other business ventures. He previously worked with RivrRock Cannabis as well as the rolling paper brand RAW.
There's also Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, who recently invested in CitizenGrown, a company that defines itself as “cannabis for the people, by the people.”
The company seeks to provide households in U.S. states where cultivation is legal with automated cannabis grow boxes to allow perhaps the next up-and-coming musician to reap the rewards of this burgeoning industry.
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