Green rush: Celebrities making waves in the cannabis industry

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Nearly a full year into legalization, California’s Green Rush has made unlikely bedfellows of cannabis brands and celebrities. While some entrepreneurial stars have identities rooted in cannabis culture, others have a more tenuous connection to marijuana.

The buzz around cannabis has reached new heights, drawing investors and entrepreneurs of all stripes. California is now home to the world’s largest cannabis market. More states are pushing to allow medical or adult-use cannabis consumption. To the north, Canada has already started reaping the financial benefit of legalizing and taxing cannabis.

It’s no surprise that celebrities see cannabis as an investment opportunity. Brands like MedMen and Flow Kana are exploring a more polished, professional version of cannabis. Leading cannabis companies in Canada are now valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

On the other side of the spectrum, upstart cannabis brands benefit from increased exposure through their celebrity founders or partners. From pioneering cannabis advocates to (formerly) staunch opponents, here are seven celebrities who have made a splash in the legal cannabis industry:

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@miketyson at the launch of #TysonRanch

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Mike Tyson: Tyson Ranch

Mike Tyson wants a piece of the cannabis industry. A former heavyweight boxing champion known for erratic behavior, Tyson is now focused on building a cannabis bud brand and resort center in the Mojave Desert.

What’s the connection? Tyson had many aches and pains that he said were relieved by cannabis. “If I didn’t have cannabis I don’t know what would have happened,” he said in an interview with Civilized.

Bob Marley (estate): Marley Natural

Few figures in cannabis culture can hold a match to Bob Marley. The Jamaican singer left an indelible impression on popular culture with songs rooted in politics, spirituality and, of course, his deep love for cannabis.

The late Bob Marley’s estate agreed to a deal with Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm, allowing the company to develop a line of cannabis products using the singer’s likeness.

Gene Simmons: Invictus MD

How does a straight-edge rocker come to promote a cannabis company? Simmons, 69, has said he never used alcohol, cannabis or other drugs even as he toured widely with KISS. But Simmons accepted $2.5 million and company stock to assume the role of chief evangelist for Invictus MD, a medical and recreational cannabis company based in Vancouver.

“I would like to admit that I was judgmental, arrogant and uninformed, as well as misinformed. I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Simmons said in a 2018 interview with CNBC.

Melissa Etheridge: Etheridge Farms

Grammy-winning singer, guitarist and activist Melissa Etheridge has been advocating for cannabis reform for more than a decade. Etheridge was a light cannabis user, she told Forbes, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, she supplies cannabis products to local dispensaries through her Etheridge Farms brand.

Snoop Dogg: Leafs by Snoop

This one should be a no-brainer. The Doggfather runs cannabis brand Leafs by Snoop in collaboration with Canada’s Canopy Growth Corporation. He is also one of several early investors in Eaze, a marijuana delivery service that has raised more than $50 million in venture capital while expanding operations throughout California.

Jimmy Buffett: Coral Reefer

Jimmy Buffett, king of island escapism, announced plans for the Coral Reefer cannabis brand with billionaire Beau Wrigley Jr. The singer who penned “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” may now be known as much for his business dealings as his music, with two restaurant franchises in operation and countless products that cater to his fans, dubbed “Parrotheads.”

Whoopi Goldberg: Whoopi and Maya

In a crowded cannabis industry, some celebrity-backed startups are looking to meet specific needs. Whoopi Goldberg and Om Edibles’ Maya Elisabeth have created a line of cannabis products to ease menstrual discomfort. Whoopi and Maya’s product line ranges from lavender-scented cannabis bath soaks to beeswax topical creams and tinctures.

Goldberg, winner of 13 Emmys and an Academy Award, wrote that she started using medical cannabis to ease symptoms of her glaucoma.

The Trailer Park Boys: Trailer Park Buds

Ricky, Julian and Bubbles (Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Mike Smith) have long been cannabis icons in Canada. Most storylines in the hit comedy series center on the Boys growing pot illegally, getting caught and going to jail. The trio who play lovable dirtbags from Sunnyvale Trailer Park are now involved in the legal cannabis industry, thanks to a partnership with OrganiGram.

“Trailer Park Buds” will be a line of pre-rolls sold across Canada and appealing to “those who don’t take themselves too seriously.”