Bob Marley may be the celebrity most associated with cannabis counterculture (sorry, Snoop), so it comes as little surprise that many American businesses have associated his name and likeness with their cannabis-themed brands.
Even so, no company has ever licensed the reggae virtuoso’s name for the sale of legal cannabis –– until now. As Rolling Stone reported on Nov. 19, the Marley estate has come to an accord with Privateer Holdings, the East Coast-based firm which also owns Leafly and industrial cultivation company Tilray, to license the singer’s name and iconic image for the first truly national cannabis brand, Marley Naturals.
It may be a brilliant marketing move on Privateer’s part, but it is not clear whether CEO Brendan Kennedy and his team can deliver on their promise of a national brand. As the Leaf Online has noted before, the incredibly complex chemistry of cannabis, and the wide variety of environmental factors which affect its ultimate potency, make for great logistical challenges for any entrepreneur trying to standardize their strains for potency across a national market.
The task faced by the Marley Naturals team will be even more challenging, as they plan to mass-produce the “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains” which the great singer smoked himself to get his musical inspiration. That’s a high standard to meet, and it will be even more of a challenge considering that the Jamaican strains Marley made famous –– most notably, Lamb’s Bread –– have been acclimated through hundreds of generations to thrive outdoors in the Caribbean sun. This means Tilray’s 60,000 square foot cultivation facility in Vancouver will have to be very closely monitored in order to replicate the same tropical growing environment. Even so, many growers have anecdotally reported that not all strains bred for outdoor production thrive in indoor environments, and vice versa.
Thus, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that the new partnership can deliver a quality of smoke identical to the joints employed by the greatest songwriter of the 20th century [One man’s opinion– Ed.]. The new owners of Marley Naturals appear to concede the point, noting in their press releases that the new brand will feature “a special blend of herb” rather than the single-strain joints which are presently common in the industry.
The challenges are indeed significant, but the cannabis movement is known for its resourcefulness. In time, the advent of the first truly national cannabis brand will likely be seen as yet another step in the long march toward a fully mature industry.
This article first appeared in The Leaf Online.