Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg’s involvement in the flowering cannabis business may not come as a shock to you, but professional athletes and musicians are also getting in on a potentially lucrative endeavor dubbed CannaBusiness.
Lured by rapid growth prospects for a lifestyle product long beloved by most celebrities, many are starting to invest their money into one of the newest US industries: cannabis.
The list of celebrities who are financially (and publicly for that matter) backing weed related businesses includes a number of individuals whose support will likely surprise no one, including rapper Snoop Dogg, country music star Willie Nelson, actor Seth Rogen, and members of the late Bob Marley’s family.
But there’s also a growing list of celebrities not commonly associated with marijuana. Former boyband star (and ex-husband of Jessica Simpson) Nick Lachey, former NBA great Oscar Robertson, former talk show host Montel Williams, singer Melissa Etheridge, and current NFL defensive tackle Frostee Rucker are all investing money in pot.
For some, it is an affinity for marijuana that drove them to get into the business.
“A lot of the celebrities that have invested so far, this has been their hobby for a long time,” Chris Walsh, the managing editor at Marijuana Business Daily, said. “Many are tied to cannabis on a personal level.”
Tahira Rehmatullah, general manager at Marley Naturals, the cannabis company founded by members of the Marley clan, agreed.
“There’s this very close link with the Marley family and cannabis,” she said. “It’s part of their heritage and culture.”
Elizabeth Hogan, vice-president of brand and communications at Willie’s Reserve, also pointed to Willie Nelson’s fervent opposition to the decriminalization of marijuana as a reason he got into the industry.
“For him, cannabis is a big lightning rod issue for that personal freedom,” Hogan said. Nelson himself put it succinctly in a Guardian interview earlier this year: “I’ve bought a lot of pot over the years, and now I’m going to sell some back.”
Both Marley Natural and Willie’s Reserve have partnered with private equity firms to fund and grow their businesses. The two enterprises hope their products will hit the shelves by early 2016.
But no celebrity has been pouring money into the marijuana industry as fervently as Calvin Broadus, the rapper more commonly known as Snoop Dogg.
Earlier this year, Snoop founded a cannabis-oriented venture capital fund which he named Casa Verde Capital, Spanish for green house. The rapper plans to raise $25m in funding and has already directed investments towards a number of marijuana start-ups, including an upcoming cannabis news site he founded with Seth Rogen and others, named Merry Jane, as well as a medical marijuana delivery business called Eaze.
Cheryl Shuman, spokeswoman for Eaze and founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said she’s been inundated with requests from various celebrities who want to get involved in the marijuana industry.
“Celebrities love cannabis,” she said “Seriously.”
Though she couldn’t publicly disclose who most of the investors were, she confirmed that there were a number of high-profile individuals who were either quietly investing in the pot sector or actively considering such a move.
“This is the biggest investment opportunity in our lifetime. Much bigger than the dotcom boom ever was,” Shuman said.