Bob Marley to Become International Marijuana Brand

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APBob Marley's name is becoming a brand for marijuana.
For decades, Bob Marley has been synonymous reggae music, the Rastafari religion -- and marijuana. The musician reportedly smoked a pound a week as part of his religious practice, according to High Times, and advocated its legalization in the 1970s.

Now his name and image will be even more intertwined with the substance, as Marley's family has licensed his name and image to the first international commercial marijuana brand, according to NBC News.

The family is working with private equity firm Privateer Holdings and announcing Marley Natural, "a premium cannabis brand rooted in the life and legacy" of the influential musician. The line will include "heirloom Jamaican cannabis" buds, oils and concentrates, of course, along with other products, such as marijuana-infused creams and e-cigarette-like vaporizers.

A marketing agency that has worked for New Balance and Starbucks (SBUX) has been retained to help create a modern consumer branding.

Spirituality, Well-Being, Reflection, Nature and Liberation

When asked by High Times in 1976 if pot would be legalized, Marley answered, "I don' know if dis government will, but I know Christ's government will."

Times have changed, high or not, and acceptance of marijuana has advanced, with medical use allowed in dozens of states and a number having passed complete recreational legalization. Now Marley's family is putting his image at the commercial front of the movement.

"It just seems natural that Daddy should be part of this conversation," said the singer's oldest daughter, 47-year-old Cedella Marley, according to the Guardian. "He viewed the herb as something spiritual that could awaken our well-being, deepen our reflection, connect us to nature and liberate our creativity."

Zion vs. Babylon

However, there seems to be a potential existential conflict. As a Rastafari, Marley believed in a division between what is called Zion, a perfect world created by the righteous, and Babylon, a materialistic and secular western society. Becoming the commercial face of a private equity-owned brand would seem to contradict the principles he professed.

And there is a lot of money in play. According to NBC, even now the marijuana market in the states that allow recreational or medical use is worth $2.5 billion annually, with an estimated $10 billion size by 2020. A Bob Marley brand, using modern marketing techniques, could capture a good chunk of the money.

The family insists that the musician would support their actions. "He's 100 percent behind what is happening," said Marley's wife Rita said, according to NBC. "He's happy because [a legal market for marijuana] is what we dreamed of."

Bob Marley isn't the only family member appearing as a brand of marijuana. His son Julian, also a musician, has partnered with a company called Drop Leaf to create Julian Marley JUJU Royal Premium Marijuana, reports the Jamaica Observer.

"I am happy to speak out in favor of decriminalization, and I salute Drop Leaf as a proud participant in the movement and struggle to make this natural super plant available for all who need it and it's healing properties," a news release quoted the younger Marley.
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