Celebrity Ganjapreneurs Breaking Through Industry

Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage; Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Just because Snoop Dogg‘s music or Seth Rogen’s movies are a hit doesn’t mean their weed brand will be. 

Don’t get it wrong. As far as quality cannabis is concerned, there is no doubt the veteran smokers are putting out a solid brand of pot, along with pioneers Willie Nelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa Etheridge, and Tommy Chong.

But what about the other celebrities jumping on the weed and CBD wagon? 

Take for example Jay-Z, who is the chief brand strategist for Caliva, which just opened its first Southern California deli-themed dispensary Thursday. Or consider promised brands by Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike Tyson, Chelsea Handler, Montel Williams, Martha Stewart. Will there weed and CBD products prove to be as worthy as their fame? 

That all depends, according to attorney Christopher Sabec, counsel and member of Fox Rothschild’s Entertainment & Sports Law Department and Cannabis Law Practice in California.

“There are top-level brands that make a lot of sense, and then I see BRANDS that come out and I raise an eyebrow because it is a little out of left field. But if they have a fan base and a group of people who look toward them to make buying decisions than I guess that motivates the decision,” Sabec said. 

There are at least three different reasons why some A-listers are getting involved in the cannabis craze: zeal, money, and more fame.

“Some celebrities get into it because they are very conscious about the issues surrounding cannabis use and legalization and medical benefits of it,” Sabec said. “They are very passionate about cannabis.”

Then other celebrities are in the consumer market with various branded products, and starting up a cannabis company is just a natural extension of that, he added. 

“It appears to them that cannabis is going to be a lucrative endeavor, and people don’t want to be left behind, so this is the the time to get in and grab market share,” Sabec said.

But just because you’re famous doesn’t mean your weed will be wanted. 

“A brand’s determination can be people who buy it just because they are a fan of that artist, and then there will be people who will buy it skeptically to see how it is,” he said, adding personal preference will ultimately drive sales. “There are established fan bases that will actually sit up and pay attention to the launch of a celebrity’s brand, but the jury is out on how far down that type of effect will go.”

Sabec shared A-listers interested in the industry have to go through bureaucracy like everyone else starting a brand. “It is important when approaching this from a trademark licensing standpoint that you understand cannabis is illegal federally, and that causes complications in the structure of a license,” he said.

Sabec explained for an artist to have a license to sell cannabis-related products in multiple states, they have to have a separate license in each state unless the company they do business with is a multi-state operator.

“The goal between the artist and a company is for a brand to appear seamless because that is the advantage of buying A brand, but it’s an individual state-by-state operation,” he said.

Sabec said if passed, the MORE Act will change the playing field for sure.

“It will make the need to navigate all these individual state laws a little less important once it is legal federally,” he said.

The bottom line, it’s likely all about the Benjamin’s for celebrities starting up weed brands.

“The hope is that they will make money, and that is why they are doing it with a cannabis company through a third-party license or a celebrity launching their own cannabis company,” Sabec said