For a man who has retired three times, former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch still appears to have plenty left in the tank.
Of late, the Oakland native has made headlines for his acts of local kindness. In 2020, for example, he spent his birthday distributing free masks in the East Bay. Lynch also recently joined Dr. Anthony Fauci for a livestream conversation focused on COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy
The one-time Oakland Raider and beloved local fixture is also something of an entrepreneur.
First came Beast Mode Apparel, Lynch’s lifestyle and clothing brand. Now the Super Bowl champion and five-time pro-bowler is launching a cannabis company, which debuted with a decidedly Oakland focus. Launched on the 4/20 holiday at select retailers across the Bay Area, Dodi Cannabis takes its name from a slang term used to describe especially top-shelf and chronic flower.
According to Jeff Goldenberg, the brand’s general manager, choosing not to capitalize on Lynch’s famous name was a crucial component of the process.
“We don’t consider Dodi to be a celebrity brand,” Goldenberg explained. “We’re not resting on any celebrity laurels. We want to be the best product in the category.”
After a process of nearly three years, they’ve entered the arena with Dodi’s first offering: a two-gram blunt in a palm leaf wrapper infused with highly-potent THCa diamonds. The flower itself is an organically grown marijuana strain dubbed “Rickey Sticky” that Lynch and a tight-knit group of friends curated as part of a self-imposed deep dive to find the best of the best.
“It burns really smooth and also tastes delicious,” Goldenberg said. “It’s definitely in the candy flavor profile and it’s extremely strong, even for seasoned Oakland smokers.”
That last point is important, because as Lynch himself made clear in answers provided to SF Weekly via email, Dodi is above all else an Oakland brand.
“Everything about Dodi is Town Business’” Lynch wrote. “First off, the Bay is known around the globe for having that fire. Then, to top all of that off, the people involved make it Oakland. The grow, distributors, production, creative, marketing and all that have Town Roots too.”
One way in which Dodi plans to show love to their home base is through a still-to-be-formalized apprenticeship program that will see individuals recently released from prison offered training and cannabis workplace experience in partnership with the non-profit Last Prisoner Project (LPP).
Lynch was humble in acknowledging the role his company hopes to play in service of LPP’s stated overall commitment to cannabis criminal justice reform.
“LPP is doing some real work,” wrote Lynch, who also serves as one of the organization’s official ambassadors. “I’m just along to help and support where I can and to bring some more awareness to what they got going on.”
Another area of focus for Dodi will be bridging the gap between sports culture and cannabis culture. As an accomplished former NFL player, Lynch joins a small but growing pool of retired professional athletes who are now establishing cannabis companies.
In the Bay Area alone, we already have a dispensary run by former boxer Karim Mayfield and a pre roll line from one-time Golden State Warrior Matt Barnes — not to mention that 49ers legend Joe Montana has invested in California cannabis giant Caliva. Even with all these big names in the game, enduring stigmas and outdated policies remain a problem throughout major sports when it comes to getting high on game day.
Voicing his hope that more progressive policies will take hold, Lynch also encouraged anyone curious about the subject to indulge their interest and learn the facts.
“I’m hella big on education,” he wrote. “I just think people need to review the facts for themselves and see that some of the preconceived ideas they have about cannabis aren’t what they are, ya feel me?”
With an emphasis on local roots and some impressive causes at the heart of their mission, Dodi Cannabis appears poised to deliver on its mission to spread the gospel of Oakland blunts as far as the law will let them.
Available now at Moe Green’s in San Francisco, Airfield Supply in San Jose, Cookies Oakland, and via NXTLVL’s delivery service, the list of local stores carrying Dodi is expected to expand by the end of May. In addition, expect new products like flavored blunts as well as separately packaged THCa diamonds and sauce tailored to Dodi’s blunt flavor line.
Appropriately, Lynch kicked things off by visiting all three stores on 4/20 for shifts as a guest budtender. He also surprised one NXTLVL customer by handling their delivery personally. It was, in true Marshawn Lynch fashion, a party like no other.
“There were crazy lines,” Goldenberg said. “There were people who showed up at like five in the morning to get into line and everything sold out.”
“That shit was dope,” Lynch summarized. “It’s always good to tap in and see the people fuckin’ wit you and your brand.”
Zack Ruskin covers cannabis for SF Weekly. Twitter @zackruskin