As the wave of cannabis legalization sweeps across North America, more and more celebrities are embarking on business ventures in the booming pot industry.
Joining the ranks of Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Francis Ford Coppola, Martha Stewart and even Whoopi Goldberg (who owns a brand of cannabis-based treatment for menstruation pain), are Drake, Seth Rogen and Jay-Z.
This year they entered the weed biz, either launching their own companies or partnering-up with existing marijuana giants on new products.
Advertisers have been exploiting the power of celebrity for centuries. The first known example of celebrity branding appears to be from the 1760s, when pottery manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood and Sons used royal endorsements to promote their products.
The benefits of a celebrity endorsing a certain product are myriad. And in the age of social media, where celebrities have immense fan bases they can reach out to directly in a matter of seconds, celebrity branding has really blown up.
By making public their love of a particular marijuana brand, or even just weed in general, stars help to boost the overall status of cannabis, which has a long and complex history in the US, but that is becoming increasingly mainstream.
Rihanna, one of the world’s most famous weed-lovers, has instagrammed herself smoking pot countless times. She even posted a pic of herself rolling a blunt on her bodyguard’s head at Coachella.
As these images are displayed for her 77.6 million followers on Instagram, there’s no doubt Rihanna has managed to change the perception some people have of marijuana. And although Riri never fulfilled our dreams of launching her own weed line dubbed MaRihanna, many others decided to try their luck in the fledgling cannabis industry.
Let’s take a look at some of the top celebrity names that entered the pot biz in 2019.
Jay-Z joins the weed biz as brand strategist
I felt so inspired by what my teacher said,
She said I’d either be dead or a reefer head
Hip-hop’s first billionaire penned these lyrics for his 2009-song So Ambitious. And it turns out Jay-Z’s ambitions led him into the pot business this year.
Jay has positioned himself as an entrepreneur a while back with his other ventures, which include a clothing line, a music streaming service, and a cognac brand.
Earlier this year, the New York rapper joined cannabis company, Caliva, as a brand strategist. Jay was tasked with establishing the creative direction of the California-based company, as well as Caliva’s social equity efforts.
“In this position, Mr. Carter will 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’s website.
Jay, whose real name is Shawn Carter, appeared to be real excited about his new project. “Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level. With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos makes them the best partner for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way,” he said in a statement.
Drake partners with Canopy Growth on marijuana wellness
Canadian rapper Drake is another newcomer to the pot business. This November, he partnered with cannabis giant Canopy Growth on a marijuana wellness project based in his hometown of Toronto, Canada.
The joint venture, which will focus on “wellness, discovery and overall personal growth,” already has a license from Health Canada to cultivate and sell cannabis, according to Canopy, while further information from this collba is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
“The opportunity to partner with a world-class company like Canopy Growth on a global scale is really exciting. The idea of being able to build something special in an industry that is ever-growing has been inspiring. More Life and More Blessing,” the Hotline Bling rapper stated.
Martha Stewart taking care of animals with CBD
Drake isn’t the first celebrity partnership Canopy secured this year. Another notable star that teamed-up with Canopy Growth in 2019 was television personality Martha Stewart.
Stewart took on an advisory role at Canopy, assisting the cannabis company in the development of a line of hemp-based animal health products.
“I am delighted to establish this partnership with Canopy Growth and share with them the knowledge I have gained after years of experience in the subject of living,” the homemaker told CNBC about the deal.
But Stewart joining Canopy was seen as more than just a lucrative business opportunity for the company. It was also seen as a sign of the changing times and acceptance of the weed industry, which faced a certain stigma from some investors from the very beginning.
Mad Money host Jim Cramer called the partnership a “very important” move for Canopy. “When you have a Martha Stewart get behind [CBD], that matters. In the same way that it matters that Rob Sands and Bill Newlands, who was a great teacher we had, backed Canopy. This is very important.”
Snoop Dogg expands his portfolio of pot-related projects
Snoop Dogg is no stranger to the marijuana business either. The rapper and well-known weed enthusiast is the proud owner of his own marijuana brand, Leafs by Snoop, which is produced in partnership with Canopy Growth, as well.
However, Snoop’s engagement with the business of cannabis didn’t stop there. This year, he became the new brand ambassador of Israeli cannabis start-up Seedo.
Seedo manufactures marijuana home-growing boxes. Boosted by artificial intelligence, the hermetically sealed boxes can be paired with a smartphone via the Seedo app, which enables easy cultivation for inexperienced growers.
Snoop will “work closely with the company to achieve optimal consumer awareness of this innovative technology,” according to a press release from the Haifa- based company.
Lil Wayne enters recreational marijuana business in style
“I used to just want to get high, now I smoke to get inspired. With GKUA, I’m sharing a feeling that I love,” Lil Wayne said of his new line of marijuana products, set for a release in 2020.
GKUA Ultra Premium was “designed to provide consumers with the best high of their lives,” with all products being approved by Weezy himself. These include strains with some of the highest levels of THC naturally available and products ranging from concentrates to pre-rolled joints.
“The combination of our incredible products, market knowledge and commitment to quality, paired with the unmatched fanbase of Lil Wayne, the ultimate cannabis connoisseur, creates an unprecedented opportunity to create a cannabis brand that values creativity and the artistic pursuit,” said Beau Golob in a press release, President and Co-founder GKUA Inc.
Lil Wayne and GKUA will host an exclusive launch party early next year, while the products are expected to be available in dispensaries across California later in 2020.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg launch Houseplant
Another Canopy Growth celebrity partnership from this year is Houseplant – a cannabis brand developed by comedian Seth Rogen and his pal Evan Goldberg.
“Houseplant is the result of years of experience and dedication, with each element and expression thoughtfully designed to make it easier for people to learn to love cannabis as much as Houseplant does,” the pair said upon launching the company.
Anyone familiar with Seth Rogen’s work is surely acquainted with the actor’s profound love of marijuana, making it easy to believe he would have poured in serious care and dedication into his very own brand of weed. “Every decision we’ve made for the business reflects the years of education, first-hand experience and respect we have for cannabis,” as Rogen put it himself.
Houseplant’s Sativa, Indica and Hybrid flower are available in select retailers in several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.
Rogen also hosted a pot-themed charity event for Alzheimer’s in Los Angeles this year, a cause dear to his heart just as weed is.
Mike Tyson announces luxury weed resort, Tyson university
Boxing legend Mike Tyson, who already has his own brand of cannabis, revealed plans this year for a marijuana resort at his spacious California ranch. The 407-acre luxury weed resort in the Mojave Desert dubbed Tyson Ranch will cover everything from cannabis research to an annual music festival.
But perhaps most noteworthy are Mike’s plans to launch Tyson University – a bona fide school at his ranch that will offer agricultural courses to prospective marijuana growers. Learning proper and natural cultivation is of great importance to Tyson, who prides himself in all of his strains being bug and pesticide free, handled with care and love in order to create “a connoisseur level product, for everyone.” the Tyson Ranch website emphasizes that “Mr. Tyson has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the cannabis he puts his name on.”
Tyson is an all-around devotee of cannabis, crediting the plant with helping him with various health problems he experienced as a professional boxer. “I’ve been fighting for over 20 years, and my body has a lot of wear and tear. I had two surgeries and I used marijuana to calm my nerves, and it would take the pain away. But before, they had me on those opiates, and those opiates had me all screwed up,” Tyson explained his love of weed and CBD to Cannabis & Tech magazine back in February.
And while everyone’s waiting to see what Tyson’s weed resort will look like once finished, the former boxing champ revealed that him and his pals smoke $40,000 worth of pot at his ranch every month.