One of the principal if not biggest marijuana icons is dearly departed Jamaican born reggae superstar Bob Marley. As a follower of the Rastafarian movement, he was a devoted marijuana smoker and advocate for legalization as he felt it could connect us to nature, free our minds and liberate our creativity. He is even quoted as saying that marijuana which he called “herb is the best thing for man right now as I see it.”
So it is not surprising that his widow Rita Marley and extended family have announced that they will be launching the first global premium marijuana brand: Marley Natural. They are doing this in partnership with a reported US$50million investment from Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm that focuses entirely on the booming cannabis industry that has sprung up since marijuana was legalised in Colorado. Officially launching late 2015, Marley Natural will offer for sale “heirloom Jamaican cannibas stains” and marijuana-infused skin repair creams and lotions containing Jamaican botanicals such as aloe and coconut. Plus accessories such as vaporisers and pipes “based on those that Bob preferred.”
Marley Natural is an extension of the Bob Marley brand as his estates currently markets others products including: audio equipment (The House of Marley), coffee (Marley Coffee), and energy drinks (Marley Beverage Company). Through Bob’s official store, they also sell an assortment of apparel and other products which give homage to Bob’s love of marijuana. But this is the family’s first move into actual marijuana products.
Interestingly, the operations for Marley Natural and the farming/development of products will be in the United States, as cannabis in not (yet) legal in Jamaica. So will this multi-million dollar deal that will attempt to build a global marijuana brand spur on Jamaican politicians and others in the region to consider legalization with a view to capitalizing on this growing sector estimated to be worth US$150Billion worldwide? Well one can only hope that the debates started at the recent Caribbean Tourism Organization meeting in the US Virgin Islands will continue. Granted this may not be right for all islands, but there should at least be open debate and more importantly a vote. The region’s economy needs a boost and if managed correctly, marijuana tourism combined with marijuana products could just be the injection it needs!