Imagine that five years ago you and a friend were discussing what the world would look like if cannabis were to become legal. Eventually you start wondering who would be the most likely candidates as celebrity endorsers or investors.
Your first three guesses probably would have been Snoop Dogg, Tommy Chong and Willie Nelson, and guess what? You would have been correct on all three counts. But you probably could never have imagined some of the others who would get on board.
No celebrity has been more up front about marijuana usage than Calvin Broadus, better known as Snoop Dogg (or more recently, Snoop Lion). And Snoop has quite literally put his money where his mouth is, founding a cannabis-oriented venture capital fund and supporting a number of industry start-ups.
Willie Nelson has founded Willie’s Reserve, citing his longtime opposition to the criminalization of marijuana and hilariously telling The Guardian in an interview: “I’ve bought a lot of pot over the years, and now I’m going to sell some back.”
Other predictable celebrity investors/spokespeople include Tommy Chong (the “Chong’s Choice” brand), the family of Bob Marley (“Marley Natural”) and Jimmy Buffett (“Coral Reefer,” of course).
And then it gets a little weird. How weird?
Martha Stewart just announced a partnership with Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth Corporation, a co-branding effort. To be fair, the effort revolves around CBD products (“for humans and their pets”) and not actual marijuana, but still. No word yet on whether each product sold will come with candle-making supplies.
In the sports world, NFL legend Joe Montana’s venture capital firm just invested $75 million in a California cannabis firm called Caliva. NBA legend and Basketball Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson pointed to his personal experience with medical marijuana in making his industry investment. And current NFL player Frostee Rucker is an investor as well, somewhat surprising given the NFL’s continued intransigence on marijuana, but there’s nothing in NFL rules to prevent him from taking a financial stake in the industry.
Perhaps most surprising of all, former Speaker of the House John Boehner not only backed a U.S. startup firm that just went public in Canada, he co-hosted a symposium for potential cannabis investors. The times, they are a-changing, for sure.
And so the unanswered question is: will the continually growing list of celebrities supporting the industry – and especially celebrities not known for their love of marijuana – help to change the ongoing bias against legalization? Stay tuned.