From Snoop Dogg to Seth Rogen to Mike Tyson. One of the great things about being a celebrity is the ability to both back desirable products (for money, of course!), and start your own company. Sure, we’d all do it if we had the money, but since the majority of us will never be able to use multi-million-dollar paychecks to fund our projects of love, the best we can do is check out those who can. Cannabis is huge in popular culture, and used by the biggest stars out there. Let’s take a look at which celebrities have gotten into the field of starting cannabis companies.
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We all know him, we all love him. Well, maybe not Evander Holyfield. But the rest of us have become pretty endeared to the face-tattooed, heavy-weight boxing champion over the years. And what is this face-tattooed, heavy-weight boxing champion doing now? Setting up cannabis ranches. When California changed its laws, and opened the door for cannabis production, Mike Tyson didn’t waste any time, setting up Tyson’s Ranch in El Segundo, California.
He even started a podcast called ‘Hotboxin’ where he chats with other celebrities, smokes, and promotes his other cannabis-related ventures. His company works as more than just a cannabis-growing ranch, functioning as a licensing and branding company as well. The end goal is for an entire entertainment complex with hotels, stores, entertainment venues and so on to be built.
Tyson didn’t stop with the continental US though, he’s been planning on taking his operation to the island of Antigua, which opened the door for medical cannabis tourism in 2018. The country does not yet allow recreational cannabis (though its working on it), but it does now have lax policies that allow for investors like Mike Tyson to come in and start businesses there. When the story was originally reported in early 2020, Tyson had submit a proposal to set up a wellness center on the island along with a hotel. While initial requests were said to have gone through just fine, a full proposal was subsequently requested.
Most news on this venture came out last year when Tyson was initially looking into the paradise island location for his new wellness center. And it likely won’t be a story again until the doors of said center are ready to open.
When it comes to celebrities and cannabis companies, some names just make more sense. A name like Seth Rogen has become synonymous with marijuana, much like later entry Snoop Dogg. We’ve watched Seth Rogen light up in movies, from This is the End to Pineapple Express. And we’ve heard him talk extensively about it in tons of publications. Now, Seth Rogen is no longer simply a cannabis aficionado, he’s a cannabis entrepreneur as well.
It was reported earlier this year that Seth Rogen, along with business partner Evan Goldberg, would launch their cannabis brand in the US in March. The brand, cleverly named Houseplant, is a cannabis goods and accessories company that will sell the likes of ashtrays and lighters, as well as actual cannabis, which will only be shipped in the California area to start. This operation is almost all Hollywood-based, with business partner Evan Goldberg, and co-founders Alex McAtee and James Weaver, all associated with Rogen and Goldberg’s studio, Point Grey Pictures. The last co-founder Michael Mohr, who will be acting CEO, is the only one not entertainment related, instead coming in as a venture investor.
Part of the idea of Rogen’s new company, is to show the positive side of cannabis consumption. Said Mohr through an e-mail, “Our founders have a long history enjoying cannabis and believe it should be treated with the reverence it deserves… Through their film work, and the pride with which they speak about cannabis publicly, Seth and Evan have shown the world that not only does the potential exist to have a healthy relationship with cannabis, it is also very normal, and can have an amazingly positive impact on one’s life.”
This is not the first venture for the company, however. Houseplant initially started doing business in Canada in 2019. It joins the US market now as more states change tack, legalizing cannabis for recreational use, including New York State and New Mexico, which both passed legalization policies within 24 hours of each other in the past month.
I feel like it would be remiss to write an article on celebrities creating cannabis companies, without mentioning the grandfather in the world of celebrity cannabis. Good old Snoop Dogg. Some would say Snoop Dogg (aka Calvin Broadus) and cannabis go together like peanut butter & jelly, or Colombia and cocaine, it’s almost hard to imagine one without the other. And when it comes to celebrities entering the cannabis game, Snoop Dogg was one of the first – predictably – to throw his pipe in the ring.
After bringing us album after album filled with the most pot-friendly of lyrics, and outspokenly letting us know how he feels about the plant, Snoop Dogg was one of the first celebrities to get involved with cannabis companies. Back in 2015, Snoop Dogg announced the opening of a new company called Leafs by Snoop in conjunction with Canopy Growth Corporation, a cannabis company with products like flower concentrates and edibles which was geared, at the time, for sales in Colorado.
All flowers involved in Leafs by Snoop are handpicked by Snoop himself, and hand-weighed for accuracy. “It’s a true blessing that I can share the products I love so much with y’all today” said Snoop at the time, “From the flower, to the concentrates, and edibles – it’s all hand-picked by yours truly so you know it’s the hottest product out there. It’s the real deal and you gotta get out to Colorado to try it first!”
But that’s hardly the end of the story for Snoop Dogg and cannabis. In fact, it isn’t even the beginning of it. In 2013, Snoop Dogg partnered with Grenco Science to produce a line of vaporizers called the Snoop Dog G-Pen. In 2019, Snoop partnered with Israeli company Seedo as a brand ambassador for the company that promotes home growing. The deal was for Snoop to endorse the latest Seedo product, ‘Seedo Homelab’, a machine with AI technology that aids in growing cannabis plants. Mr. Dogg also co-founded a marijuana investment company called Casa Verde Capital which announced at the end of 2020 that a deal for $100 million in funding had been closed, according to paperwork filed with the SEC.
Snoop Dogg isn’t the only name synonymous with cannabis. Let’s not forget rock icon Willie Nelson, who was also one of the first celebrities to get involved with cannabis companies when he started Willie’s Reserve in 2016. Nelson opened his company with the idea of helping people by providing good products, as well as supporting smaller local businesses.
He kicked off the opening of his company with two concerts. Products were originally only available in Colorado, but since that time have started being sold in other locations. In 2018, it was reported that Tuatara Capital, the parent company of Willie’s Reserve, raised $12 million for the brand, which was used to expand the company into other locations, and which brings the total raised funds to $29.5 million.
Some interesting aspects of Nelson’s operation? Well, for starters, Nelson acts as the company’s chief testing officer (CTO), and while this might be a joke, it suffices to say that Nelson takes an active approach to the quality assurance of his products. In 2019, Nelson launched Willie’s Remedy and Willie’s Rescue in conjunction with GCH incorporated, a cannabis intellectual property company. While Willie’s Remedy focuses on hemp-based wellness products for people, Willie’s Rescue focuses on hemp-based products for pets.
Rappers and cannabis
Starting a cannabis company seems all the rage for top rappers of today. I already mentioned Snoop Dogg, but he’s not alone in this. Take Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) who started Monogram, which launched its first products in 2020. Monogram so far specializes in indoor grown craft cannabis strains, with the OG Handroll – a 1.5 gram joint – being its flagship product. Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp, an acquisition company, announced in 2020 it would acquire Monogram.
Then there’s Ice-Cube, or O’Shea Jackson, who announced in February 2021 the launch of the well-titled Fryday Kush, which was inspired – as it sounds – by his iconic film Friday. Ice Cube is launching the brand in conjunction with Caviar Gold, with products currently available in California, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arizona.
What other rappers are becoming ganjapeneurs? Drake (Aubrey Graham) announced the launch of a branded marijuana products line through More Life Growth Company in conjunction with Canopy Growth Corp. According to the company, his product line is meant for “wellness, discovery and overall personal growth with the hope of facilitating connections and shared experiences across the globe.” And let’s certainly not forget Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.), who launched his own cannabis brand in 2019 called GKUA Ultra Premium. The line of high potency marijuana products is “designed to provide consumers with the best high of their lives.”
Dead celebrities have cannabis companies, and other people too
While Bob Marley might not be living anymore, his family has carried on his name through the cannabis company Marley Natural, which launched in 2014 with funding help from Privateer Holdings. Privateer Holdings signed a 30-year licensing deal with the Marley family. Bob Marley is not the only dead guy to have a line of products in his name.
The family of Jerry Garcia is also getting in on it. In late 2020, Garcia Hand Picked was launched in California, with marketing through Holistic Industries, a multi-state cannabis operator. Said Garcia’s daughter Trixie on the partnership: “We picked Holisitic Industries based on shared values, a proven track record of successful operations, scalability across multiple states and their ability to launch and market new brands; not to mention they have a senior leadership team full of Deadheads.”
There are way more celebrities who are involved in the cannabis industry, than can be mentioned here. But I’ll leave you with a few last entries. First up is Tommy Chong, another name in the cannabis world where the business created meets a generally held expectation. Chong reunited with Cheech Marin, his co-star in Up In Smoke, among other films, to produce a line of Cheech & Chong dispensaries in 2020 in legalized states across America. And then there’s our favorite kitchen maven Martha Stewart, who also released a line of CBD products in 2020 through Canopy Growth, the same company working with Seth Rogen, that bought out Jay-Z’s line, and which is doing business with half the entries on this list.
In 2019, yet another iconic rocker, Jimmy Buffet, entered the arena, partnering with Surterra Wellness, to create his Coral Reefer line. The tagline for the company is ’Good for the Body, Good for the Soul’, and focuses mainly on vapes thus far. In 2020, yet another musician got involved when Carlos Santana launched his own brand Mirayo by Santana, released through California’s Left Coast Ventures. The initial offerings of the line are pre-rolled joints and premium flowers.
Last, but certainly not least, and in an effort to show that it’s not just actors and musicians becoming cannabis entrepreneurs, we’ve got Calvin Johnson of Detroit Lions fame. The former wide receiver founded Michigan-based cannabis company Primitiv in 2019. It was even announced that year that Johnson, along with partner, and former teammate Rob Sims, had landed a partnership with Harvard University to specifically research cannabis for chronic and traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and for the general use of pain management.
If you’ll notice, the majority of celebrities that have started cannabis companies, have done so within just the last few years. This is a testament to how quickly the cannabis industry is growing, and how far-reaching it really is. The options for cannabis products are getting more and more varied, and this recent push from high profile names we already know and love, may even help to change legal policies.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places, which are always referenced, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.
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