Willie Nelson is reportedly launching his own brand of marijuana, according to Michael Bowman, the spokesperson for this new endeavor. In keeping with Willie’s long-standing advocacy and legendary love of cannabis, the brand would keep environmental and social justice issues in focus as it develops retail stores, product lines and even vaporizers. According to Bowman, the brand strategy will be more like Whole Foods, and less like WalMart:
It will be like when you walk into a Whole Foods store. Whole Foods has their 365 brand, or you can buy Stony Brook, or you can buy Horizon… It’ll all fall under that umbrella of “here’s our core beliefs, and here’s our mission statement,” and they will be a part of that, to be a part of us.
Willie’s Reserve retail stores could start opening as early as 2016 and the company hopes to focus on developing not only an in-house ganja product line, but also source cannabis from small growers with a commitment to sustainability and quality. Nelson, now 81, apparently let the business plan slip during a smoky session with writer James Joiner at the local legend’s annual Heartbreaker Banquet, a charity fundraiser held during Austin’s SXSW music festival.
Nelson will have some competition from other celebrity-branded cannabis, most notably the Marley Natural brand, which will reportedly carry “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains.” Brendan Kennedy, the executive behind the Marley Natural brand, says they hope to become “the Starbucks of marijuana,” a sentiment that embodies the green rush mentality of today’s cannabis space.
Tommy Chong has given his celebrity endorsement to various cannabis products including a vaporizer, grinder and hemp-based beverage and recently announced the creation of his own strain, Chongstar, through Marisol Gardens in Pueblo, Colorado.
With legalization laws spreading across the United States, it makes sense for stoner icons to position themselves as trustworthy purveyors of their favorite substance in what’s sure to be a multi-billion dollar market. Willie Nelson has long been America’s favorite outlaw, and his appeal spreads across diverse demographics. With a commitment to supporting small, environmentally-sensitive farmers, his brand could be the model for the socially responsible cannabis businesses longtime legalization activists have been hoping for. Speaking about Willie’s Reserve, spokesperson Bowman says “This is a culmination of Willie’s vision, and his whole life.”