These days, it seems like every celebrity has a side business – a product or line of products designed to enhance their brand beyond their normal sources of income.
In the past, celebrities have dabbled in food or clothing, but in recent years owning your own cannabis brand is a hot sign of fame.
Mike Tyson, Martha Stewart, and Bella Thorne are just a few of the celebrities promoting their own cannabis brands, and there are many others trying to start cannabis-related businesses.
Heck, the celebs don’t even have to be alive. The Jerry Garcia and George Harrison estates both have licensed cannabis products and paraphernalia.
There’s even a delivery service in California called Camp Nova that specializes in celebrity and influencer pot brands.
Considering that 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis, while medical marijuana is legal in 37 states and DC, it’s a time of burgeoning growth for celebrities looking to break into the sativa space.
“If anything, being part of a burgeoning industry with deep cultural ties helps a celebrity’s image,” says Dan Wilson, eDitor of Visit Hollyweeda news site about California cannabis, told HuffPost.
Wilson said musicians are the prominent demographic most likely to benefit from a cannabis compound.because weed and music have had a natural affinity for decades.”
“In particular, no genre of music has discussed weed more directly than hip-hop, and so we see a lot of people from the rap game collaborating with weed brands in California. The fans love it, it fits perfectly.”
“Celebs who want to get into cannabis need to have a history of their relationship with weed.”
– Dan Wilson, Editor of Visit Hollyweed
Sports/entertainment agent Klint Briney also believes that retired professional athletes can benefit from a pot profile.
“I mean, who doesn’t know pain like, say, a Peyton Manning or Serena Williams? Pain is the number one health problem, affecting more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined,” Briney told HuffPost.
Sydney Banta of cannabis marketing firm HighHopes.co believes the growth of famous brands will likely come from people in the industry culinary space.
“Edibles and beverages are categories that have only scratched the surface, and those categories have a lot of untapped market,” Banta told HuffPost. “Not everyone smokes, but everyone eats and drinks. In other words, if Rachel Ray launched a line of cannabis goodies, I bet you would discover a whole new group of cannabis-curious consumers.”
Comedian Cheech Marin is a celebrity who’s capitalizing on the marriage of food and cannabis with Muncheechos, a restaurant concept dedicated to stoner-centric cuisine, according to Food52.com.
But adapting certain cannabis strains to a celebrity’s public image is one thing that hasn’t been done very often.
A writer for Pacific San Diego noted in 2020 that weed from Tyson Ranch, Mike Tyson’s former cannabis brand, produced a high that made people talkative, but that wasn’t “powerful.”
Additionally, the high associated with comedian Tommy Chong’s brand was more cerebral and not the “giggle weed” hoped for, the reporter said.
Banta said that celebrity-inspired strains can be successful when used strategically.
“This approach ensures that the celebrity’s connection and partnership with the brand feels real to consumers and not like an attempt to make money,” she said. “In addition, it can be a great way to further attract, engage and convert this celebrity’s fans and followers into customers of the cannabis brand.”
“If Rachel Ray launched a line of cannabis goodies, I bet you would discover a whole new group of cannabis-curious consumers.”
– Sydney Banta, HighHopes.co
However, Wilson said that it is “not practical to be so narrow as to only offer an ‘experience’ for your cannabis brand”. He argued that it’s more common for a celebrity to create a curated collection of strains and tell customers, “I’ve tried a few strains and these were my favorites, these are the ones I like and I think you will.” like it too.”
Still, he said a celebrity could take the approach of identifying with a particular strain if they’re careful and intentional about it.
“Like choosing strains based on an experience that suits their personality, and then offering the same strain over and over,” he said. “To do that, they need to have a consistent grow operation.”
Carlos Dew of LA-based cannabis company Superbad said when his company partnered with rapper Lil’ Kim on their new cannabis brand Aphrodisiac, they worked on several strains – but the first, Hardcore, was intentionally crafted to reflect her sexy personality.
Pleasing the hip-hop legend has had its challenges. Dew said they came up with five strains for Lil Kim to try before she decided to go hardcore.
“No, she didn’t try them all at once,” Dew said. “You can not.”
Obviously, the cannabis connection can fund a celebrity’s bank account, but according to Wilson, not every celebrity should get into the cannabis business and expect to make big bucks.
“Celebs who want to get into cannabis need to have a history of their relationship with weed,” Wilson said. “Ideally, they have spoken openly about weed in the work/art they are known for or have campaigned for legalization as a public figure. Without that connection, it just seems opportunistic.”
That fits with the views of former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne, who owns the Forbidden Flowers brand. She takes her role as a cannabis celebrity seriously.
“Cannabis is very important to me and a part of my lifestyle,” she told the HuffPost in 2021. “It just took a long time to get it fully up and running because there are a lot of moving parts. I also had to do a lot of research on where I wanted to grow the cannabis, how the strains would taste, what the brand would represent and the aesthetic.”
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