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Celebrities moving into the legal weed market

For years, celebrities have partnered with brands to promote products as part of marketing campaigns and business endeavors alike. Many times, these celebrity entrepreneurial opportunities are ventures into the cosmetic, fashion, and food and drink industries.

In recent years, however, more and more celebrities are trying their hands at cannabis business ventures, partnering with marijuana companies, and opening their own dispensaries to take advantage of the booming market as states continue to legalize recreational adult use.

One such celebrity entrepreneur is the Red Sox’s David Ortiz. The designated hitter, recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, has partnered with cannabis producer Rev Brands to release a line of marijuana products called “Papi Cannabis.”

The products will be released almost exclusively at Massachusetts dispensaries, with a chance Rev Brands will expand to other recreational dispensaries across the country later in the summer.

The line has been marketed so as to combine Ortiz’s history with baseball and his recent embrace of cannabis products, which he claims have improved his physical and mental health after retiring from baseball. “Sweet Sluggers,” the name of the first Papi Cannabis product, will include some of Ortiz’s favorite strains, such as “Motorbreath #15” and “Lava Cake #7.”

Ortiz’s new line of cannabis products is just the first of many such celebrity ventures into the legal cannabis market. While Ortiz has promoted recreational marijuana products among sports fans, there are other celebrities who have endorsed similar products.

Law and Order’s Ice-T was recently approved to open and operate a recreational cannabis dispensary in the state of New Jersey. The rapper and actor plans to partner with Charis B, a friend, marijuana expert, and founder of The Medicine Woman, a California marijuana brand.

This new branch of The Medicine Woman is set to open near the end of 2023, with products and merchandise from many of New Jersey’s more popular marijuana brands. The dispensary will have roughly 5,000 square feet of retail space for the many cannabis products it will offer.

The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board, which is responsible for enforcing and establishing cultivation, distribution, and testing regulations, approved Ice T’s enterprise proposal earlier this year.

Ice T’s latest venture is an attempt to correct the historically disproportionate marijuana arrest rates among Black citizens of New Jersey. He hopes to give local communities of color new opportunities for access to the recreational marijuana market with the latest branch of The Medicine Woman. 

The actor has partnered with Charis B, founder of The Medicine Woman and cannabis production expert. Since opening dispensaries in California, where the recreational cannabis market has become increasingly differentiated and competitive, she’s seeking opportunities to expand to the East Coast. Ice-T’s New Jersey dispensary was one such opportunity.

In addition to the sports stars and Hollywood actors who have taken part in the growing marijuana market, there are several musicians who have begun cannabis production endeavors of their own.

Marijuana and music have shared a long and storied history, and perhaps because of this, many musicians have tried their hand at cannabis company partnership and marijuana production. Rapper Lil’ Kim and her team have worked to release a specific strain that reflects the performer’s own persona and brand. The rapper insisted that the strain reflect her performative identity, testing multiple products and variations before settling on a strain she thought would best suit her fans.

Similarly, actor and musician Bella Thorne has taken many factors into consideration as she has developed the identity of her cannabis production brand Forbidden Flowers. In a 2021 interview with HuffPost, Thorne noted marijuana’s significance to her, stating, “Cannabis is very important to me and is a part of my lifestyle… I had to do a lot of research on where I wanted to grow the cannabis, what I wanted the strands to taste like, what I wanted the brand to represent, and the aesthetic.”

Additionally, country musician Willie Nelson has used his cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve Label, to advocate for increased access to legal marijuana products. Nelson has spoken out about discriminatory enforcement practices in regards to marijuana prohibition and has partnered with local dispensaries to provide opportunities to specific communities.

Hip-hop artists like Wiz Khalifa and Big Gigantic have also partnered with Colorado dispensaries to release their own lines of cannabis products. Many early celebrity cannabis ventures were partnerships with Colorado companies, as cannabis products were available for legal recreational adult use in the state much earlier than in other areas of the US.

One celebrity marijuana venture which has maintained public attention for some time is retail businesswoman Martha Stewart’s partnership with Canadian marijuana corporation Canopy Growth. Stewart’s line features many CBD products, including CBD gummies and even cannabidiol dog treats.

Stewart, a popular chef and television personality, has enjoyed a long reign over American homemaking and lifestyle practices. Her latest business endeavor promises to be no exception.

Many have connected Stewart’s latest venture to her friendship with rapper and cooking show co-host Snoop Dogg. Snoop, who launched a line of cannabis products with Colorado company LivWell in 2015, has long been an advocate of legal recreational adult-use.

In 2016, Snoop partnered with Canopy to launch the Leafs brand, which has released marijuana products and paraphernalia over the last several years. It was during this venture that Snoop connected Stewart to Canopy’s team of executives. 

Partnerships like these have become increasingly popular between celebrities and cannabis producers, as they allow the celebrity to have a role in the way each product is branded and marketed to consumers. Canopy has participated in several partnerships of this type, collaborating with rapper Drake and actor Seth Rogen to release specifically branded marijuana products and paraphernalia.

While some would argue that celebrity partnerships like these make the market less accessible to smaller cannabis businesses, many of these partnerships continue to drive the way marijuana is branded across the nation and the world. In any case, this is one clear example of the dynamism and opportunity across the cannabis market at large.

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