Celebrities that have long been associated with marijuana are getting into the industry. It's a no brainer, for obvious reasons. Tommy Chong was the first that I heard of, when he inked a deal with Marisol Therapeutics in Pueblo, Colorado. BReal from Cypress Hill recently opened up a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz. A story came out today on The Daily Beast which talked about how Willie Nelson wants to create his own marijuana brand, complete with his own strain and stores. Per The Daily Beast article:
So what exactly is Willie's Reserve?
Well, you know, Willie has spent a lifetime in support of cannabis, both the industrial hemp side and the marijuana side. He wants it to be something that's reflective of his passion. Ultimately, it's his. But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy war on drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we're trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition.
Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are. So from the store itself to how they'll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it's going to be very reflective of Willie's life.
Wait, so there's going to be stores?
Well, yeah, they're in the making. I think it's safe to say that there will be stores that roll out in the states where marijuana has become legal.
You can read the whole interview at the link I provided above. I always like reading Willie Nelson interviews, and this one may be my favorite of all time. Teaming up with a celebrity for marketing purposes, or a celebrity entering the marijuana industry themselves like BReal did, can be a great business move, but it also can bring on a set of challenges that a lot of people don't expect. A Willie Nelson strain named 'Willie's Reserve' is going to have astronomically high expectations from consumers. Anything short of the best strain of all time is sure to result in critical reviews on the web and social media.
Attaching a celebrity name to a strain or brand can also turn off a lot of customers and create public relations issues, similar to what happened when Privateer Holdings announced it had inked a deal with the Marley family. People were quick to point out that 'selling out' is not something that Bob Marley himself may have wanted, It also brought to the surface comments that members of Privateer Holdings have made in the past bashing marijuana culture, including the use of Bob Marley's image by the marijuana industry.
I expect more celebrities to sign deals similar to what Tommy Chong has been doing, and for they themselves to enter the cannabis space, similar to what Willie Nelson wants to do. What do readers think? Would you be more likely to visit a store because it's owned by Willie Nelson? What would you expect going to a store like that? How high would your expectations be? I know mine would be through the roof, and I wouldn't frequent a celebrity owned store if it was just a gimmick and/or had prices that were significantly higher than other stores.