If you hadn't heard, the estate of one Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley — reggae music superstar, cultural icon, and reputed cannabis smoker — has its very own Bob Marley-branded line of cannabis and cannabis-related products (backed by $75 million in venture capital, including investment from Peter Thiel's Founders Fund).
The Marley family-approved red, gold, and green (if you know what I mean) rolled into select Bay Area medical cannabis dispensaries this week. (Sorry: it's not Jamaican collie; just mere California outdoor, grown by selected local cultivators. Which means it's better than Jamaican weed.)
There is already Bob Marley-branded just about everything — including Jamaica-bred consumables like coffee — so cannabis was a natural next step. But Marley Natural is making pains to have it known that it's not just about selling weed — or pure corporate culture.
“This is not Big Pot buying out Bob Marley,” said Tahira Rehmatullah, the brand's general manager.
[jump] So what is Bob Marley weed in 2016 in Northern California? It's cultivators who are already known who were approached by Privateer to be the officially-licensed Bob Marley growers.
“We said, 'Hey, we want the special flower for this,'” said Elan Rae, the director of business and product development at Privateer Holdings. “And everybody I approached said, 'Hell, yeah.'”
There are four strains of flower: a hybrid, a sativa, an indica, and a CBD-rich. There are also CO2 oil cartridges for each, plus hemp-derived body lotions and healthcare products. For the Bob Marley aficionado in your life who may not want to get stoned.
Perhaps conscious about its image in both Jamaica and here, Marley Natural says it's giving back. The company says it's starting a fund for small business in Jamaica called “Rise Up,” and at least one Bay Area dispensary, Oakland's Harborside Health Center, says it's donating five percent of proceeds from sales of Marley Natural products to local charities aimed at helping low-income people of color.
Eventually, if laws and farming practices change, the brand hopes to be able to import high-quality Jamaican land-race strains — as in, strains Bob himself might have smoked — to American consumers.
But this weed though. It's $50 an eighth, which is expensive for outdoor. How is it? We cannot yet say, for it's the middle of the workday and the cannabis just went on sale at 3 p.m. But the strains that we smelled hit all the right notes.
And even if you reject the herb in all its forms, you at least get to say you lived long enough to see Bob Marley-branded cannabis products sold legally over the counter.