The Major Players: Five Musicians Rocking the Cannabis Industry Pt. 1
Popular music icons light up the industry with their involvement.
It’s been a busy year for musicians looking to expand their brands within the cannabis industry. Some are merely expanding their footprint, while others are just beginning their baby steps. So for those that are attempting to get the very high-level take on how name musicians are cashing in on their favorite crop, we’ve assembled our very own Top Five well-known chart-toppers in the industry.
Once cannabis laws began to loosen in the US, it was only a matter of time before the Marley estate, which has licensed the late reggae scion’s name on everything from coffee grounds to Bluetooth speakers, would get involved. The party officially started in 2014 when the estate partnered with Privateer Holdings to create Marley Natural, which now sells accessories and cannabis products — even delta-8 — throughout California. However, some of Marley’s children also have their own cannabis lines as well. Damian Marley made headlines when he converted a former prison in Coalinga, CA into a cultivation facility, and he launched his cannabis brand, Evidence, on Juneteenth, 2021. His brother Julian also hosts his own cannabis brand which includes sublinguals, topicals and a line of olive oil. And sister Cedella published the cookbook Cooking with Herb in 2017, and continues to run the Marley Naturals brand.
Blessed with a superhuman drive to succeed, San Francisco-based rapper-entrepreneur Gilbert Milam, Jr., aka Berner, has developed one of cannabis’s most durable and powerful brands. Smartly folding in his cannabis brand alongside a successful clothes and accessories outlet, Berner created the Cookies brand atop an ultra-pungent series of cannabis strains which have landed Cookies in markets throughout the United States and even Israel. He’s also partnered up with fellow musicians such as Run the Jewels and soon Erykah Badu to create branded strains and continues to innovate with the CBD/medicinal mushroom line Caps by Cookies. And that’s on top of a busy hip hop music career as well. In late 2021, Berner announced that he had cancer and warned his 5.1 million fans on Instagram that he might have to take a step back. Only days later, he teased the Badu partnership and a new strain, which suggests he will continue to build on his empire for as long as he can.
Cypress Hill broke new ground for both hip hop and cannabis when they premiered their heady, cannabis-friendly brand image 30 years ago. And Louis “B-Real” Freese has been grinding ever since. The main jewel in his crown is the dispensary chain Dr. Greenthumb, which has opened seven stores throughout California. He’s also hosted nonstop cannabis content with the long-running live streaming site breal.tv. Most notable amongst his shows is The Smokebox, where he invites celebrities such as Wiz Khalifa, Joe Rogan and Tommy Chong into a parked car to speak candidly on whatever comes to mind. And that’s on top of a series of vape pens and a Pilsner ale in partnership with SweetWater Brewing Company, all under the Insane brand.
The California-based singer-songwriter stands out as one of the few female entrepreneurs in the field. Stricken by breast cancer in 2004, Etheridge gravitated towards medicinal cannabis, and now hosts two companies: the CBD-oriented Etheridge Organics and the adult-use Etheridge Botanicals. The brand supports Melissa’s Etheridge Foundation, a charity which funds research into opioid addiction as well as the LGBTQ+ center Santa Cruz Diversity Center and WAMM Phytotherapies, a social benefit corporation borne from a long-running community cannabis garden in Santa Cruz.
Known as much for his public image as a cannabis connoisseur as he is for mixtapes like “Kush & Orange Juice,” Wiz Khalifa has spent a decade building up a cannabis flower-centered brand throughout the US and Canada. Riffing off of his mixtape “Rolling Papers,” Wiz partnered with the rolling paper company RAW on branded papers. A year later, he launched Khalifa Kush, based off of an OG Kush strain especially bred towards his tastes. Since then, he’s partnered up with several brands — RiverRock Cannabis in Colorado, Supreme Cannabis in Canada and most recently Gage Growth Corp. in Michigan — to cultivate and distribute these products. He’s even got his own Farmville-style app game called, appropriately enough, Weed Farm.
Oh, and just in case you didn’t see your favorites listed, we’ll be back soon with another Top Five, so stay tuned!