By Allen St. Pierre
Recently, I turned on my TV to check the weather forecast before a very early-morning flight, and the first commercial I saw was Kid Rock promoting a new brand of whiskey. Traveling through New York City’s Time Square just one week earlier, I had spied a huge video running an advertisement featuring Sean “P. Diddy” Combs promoting vodka. Pondering the implications for the nascent legal-cannabis industry, I found a Wall Street Journal article that discussed the increasing number of celebrities and musicians who’ve started to earn big paychecks as spokespeople for alcohol products, including Dr. Dre, Donald Trump and Bruce Willis.
These famous faces and major moguls hardly think of themselves as “dealers,” but they’re certainly cashing in as promoters of their apparent drug of choice. Which got me to thinking that it really can’t be long before we see celebrity-endorsed cannabis products! Think about it—Willie Nelson Weed. Sara Silverman Sativa. Mark Stepnoski Marijuana. Cheech & Chong Cannabis. Snoop Dogg Doobies.
In fact, this dynamic may already be underway with the franchising of business models and management systems made possible by pioneering leaders in the cannabusiness industry, such as Steve DeAngelo’s Harborside Health Center, Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam University and the Oregon NORML Cannabis Café.
In a not-too-distant future, I can even imagine frequenting, for example, a HIGH TIMES Café or a NORML Healing Center. Given the right partners and conducive legal circumstances, it hardly seems a stretch of one’s imagination to see this happening relatively soon in California, where citizens will vote this November on a marijuana-legalization ballot initiative.
In a recent norml.org blog post, NORML board member and Washington State farmer George Rohrbacher suggested that even after cannabis becomes legal, the NORML brand will be way too important (and valuable) to lay to rest alongside prohibition. Instead, he muses, NORML can continue to “do good by doing well by others,” in a manner similar to Paul Newman and his Newman’s Own food company, by marketing premium cannabis products created by knowledgeable and ethical businesses, with the profits directed toward worthy causes supported by cannabis consumers (possibly such as helping to pay reparations to former cannabis prisoners and their families).
Allen St. Pierre is the executive director of NORML in Washington, DC. For more information, go to www.norml.org or call 888-67-NORML.