As the Nevada legislature wraps up new laws concerning the July 1st introduction of recreational marijuana focus will turn toward product sales, retail openings, and marketing strategy. Projected sales in Nevada by 2020 are $630 Million– an amount that could be easily surpassed with adequate distribution and marketing. Marijuana is rapidly becoming Big Business- with Colorado legal marijuana sales topping $126 Million in March alone. The noticeably absent Tobacco and associated industries are still waiting patiently on the sidelines, presumably while Federal issues are worked out. Legal interstate commerce of marijuana is rather amorphous and, despite the new administration in Washington, the general momentum is heading towards full legalization and elucidation of State-to-State branded distribution and sales.
Branding of product will become especially important once those interstate barriers topple. Current branding generally revolves around high profile pro-marijuana celebrities such as Bob Marley, Willie Nelson, and Snoop Dogg.
The Marley name stands out among the three brands mentioned. Marley, who died in 1981, was a Jamaican-born singer well known for his marijuana consumption as a Rastafarian, and references within his songwriting (Kaya, Easy Skanking, etc.) place an emphasis on the use and holiness of the herb. The Marley name is big business. Marley is listed as the 6th top earning deceased celebrity last year by Forbes (#1: Michael Jackson), with estimated earnings of $21M, and his children have continued and gone beyond music into products ranging from Coffee & Clothing to Resorts.
The Marley Naturals brand was a result of an approach from the Marley family themselves. In 2016 Marley Natural introduced a series of products for the specialty market. Consisting of accessories, lotions, and marijuana, the products are niche marketed where legal. The non-THC (a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) containing high-quality lotions have the greatest ability for current national distribution. Lotions contain hempseed oil, known for high Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid content. Accessories are similarly high quality, with black walnut sourced from a third generation family business in Missouri. Marijuana growers are “committed to sustainability and local to the markets in which our cannabis is sold,” according to Alex Neury, Director of Distribution and Partnerships for Marley Natural.
Marley Naturals also continues the activism Marley was known for.
According to Neury:
Since launching Marley Natural in California in February 2016, we’ve expanded cannabis sales to two additional states (Oregon and Washington) and have plans to enter additional markets by the end of 2017. We’ve increased the scope of our social impact initiative, Rise Up, which partners with organizations in the U.S. and Jamaica that are committed to positive social change, environmental sustainability, and social justice.
USA Today featured our partnership with the Minority Cannabis Business Association in Oregon, where we hosted an event to help people convicted of cannabis offenses expunge their records and in many cases get a “fresh start.”
So what of Privateer Holdings? A Seattle-based private equity firm focused on the cannabis industry, Privateer is a legitimate standout in the industry with acquisition of Leafly, the world’s largest pot website (including dispensary database) and Tilray, a Canada-based medicinal marijuana production facility. Interstate commerce of marijuana is coming and Privateer is poised to market what we can assume would be a brand of consistent product on a national basis. Privateer recently passed the $100 Million mark in funding. Wait for that IPO, folks.