When most people hear the name “Bob Marley”, two things come to mind: reggae and weed.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, a Jamaican singer and songwriter, wooed the world with his melodic tunes and thoughtfully written lyrics. Marley rocked the music world, blending together reggae, ska, and rock steady, creating a truly one-of-a-kind brand.
In the 1970s, his career really blossomed, when he took the world by storm with his shockingly awe-inspiring hybrid music, and he quickly became an international superstar. Marley’s mystifying music made him a legend in his own right, and more than 50 years later, people around the globe are still entranced by his magical blend of music.
Music isn’t the only thing that Bob Marley is famed for; he is also hailed as a staunch supporter of marijuana. Quoted as saying things like, “Herb is the healing of the nation, alcohol is the destruction”, “Herb is the unification of mankind”, and “To make marijuana against the law is like saying God made a mistake”, Marley wasn’t only apologetic about his weed use; he full-on advocated for others to use it, too. He literally believed that it could ease a lot of the issues that plague the world, and we have to say, we totally agree.
Given the fact that Bob Marley was one of the most prolific marijuana users and supporters, it comes as no surprise that the icon’s name has been used to brand a line of weed strains, dubbed “Marley Natural”. Whether you’re an avid or a casual smoker, you use it for medicinal or recreational purposes; whatever the case may be, if you’re a Bob Marley fan (or even if you aren’t), you might be thinking about giving Marley Natural a try.
Before you roll up a joint or pack a bowl or bong, however, you might be interested in learning about Marley Natural. Below, you’ll find some background information about the cannabis brand that is named for the late, great Bob Marley, including a brief history, the connection of the weed to the singer – and some controversy, too – as well as an overview of some of the products featured in the Marley Natural line.
Marley Natural: A Brief History
Marley Natural is the official Bob Marley cannabis brand. It was created by his estate in conjunction with Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm that develops brands in the marijuana industry. The brand was established in 2014, and Privateer Holdings secured a 30-year licensing deal with Bob Marley’s family, to develop new strains of weed, as well as cannabis-based products.
The line, which features three categories of products, including cannabis, a line of personal care products, and lifestyle accessories, such as one hitters, filter tips, steam rollers, and grinders, was introduced in 2015, and a party was held to celebrate the launch of the venture on what would have been Bob’s 71st birthday.
The personal care products and lifestyle accessories are available MarleyNatural.com, the brand’s online retailer, and at select United States retailer, and the brand’s lineup of cannabis products are available for purchase on the West Coast of the US, in Washington State, Oregon, and California.
Soon after launch, Marley Natural became a prominent player in the cannabis industry, as it had closed a $75 million round of funding just a year after the brand was in production. Of the several investors is Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, who also backed what is now a social media giant, Facebook. Marley Natural markets itself as a “global marijuana brand” that personifies the Rastafarian virtues that Marley himself held so dear and really lived his life by.
We have mixed emotions. On one hand we hate what billionaires and monopolies have done to the American economy, gutting out middle class jobs, outsourcing at every turn, and behaving in a general predatory fashion towards their fellow countrymen deemed dispensable written off as a statistic on a spreadsheet somewhere.
On the other hand Bob Marley is such an icon, and he believed in the power of weed, and if his name, and his face, backed by big capital, can get more people turned onto the benefits of cannabis than if there was no private equity in the picture to build a business machine, well, then that would be a net positive.
We imagine some similar pro/con analysis probably went on with the Marley estate during all of this, weighing the perception of “selling out” with the greater exposure Bob, his music, and the herb itself would gain with the amplification that only millions of dirty US hard currency can provide.
The Bob Marley Connection and Controversy
Though at first glance, Bob Marley cannabis products seems kind of like a no-brainer. After all, what better person to put on the face of marijuana products than Bob? Despite the fact that Marley Natural was well-received by some, that wasn’t the case for all.
The company received a great deal of backlash, as critics claimed that the Marley Foundation and Privateer Holdings were trying to profit off of the culture of Jamaica while putting very little back into the island nation.
Many also noted that the company was using Bob Marley’s name to make money, and because Marley was vehemently anti-capitalist, they claimed that it went against everything that the singer stood for. Though he was undeniably a worldwide icon and will undoubtedly remain a legend for, well, ever, while he walked this earth, Bob was a very humble man.
As investors seek to capitalize on an industry that is exploding, investors are seeking to capitalize on cannabis products, and products that are branded by celebrities are all the rage. It stands to reason that Bob Marley would naturally a celebrity brand that an investor would certainly want to attempt to capitalize off of, and Mary Natural is one of the many celebrity-backed lines of marijuana and marijuana-based products.
As per an estimate issued by ArcView Market research, in 2015, the year that Marley Natural was launched, the legal cannabis industry brought in about $5.4 billion in sales in the US alone. In the year 2020, it’s estimated that the industry raked in an astounding $21.8 billion. Among other celebrities that have been used to brand marijuana products include Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Wiz Khalifa.
Though a spokesperson for Marley Natural eluded that Marley Natural would encourage the world to be more open to conversing about the many advantages that cannabis-based products offer and create a platform on which Marley’s message regarding and view about weed could be shared with the world, it’s important to note that if Bob Marley were here today, he may have been very against the products that his name is being used to sell.
You see, Bob Marley often spoked out and railed against capitalism and imperialism, calling them “evils of capitalism and imperialism”. In fact, one of his most famous quotes perfectly illustrates how he felt about the two, “The greatness of man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”.
As such, it is kind of safe to assume that the Marley Estate’s decision to partner with Privateer would probably make Bob Marley a little more than displeased.
According to an esteemed professor in the department of the recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University and author of a reggae encyclopedia, Mike Alleyne, it was inevitable that a cannabis brand would try to profit off of Bob Marley’s name and legacy.
Alleyne cited the brands in other industries, including coffee, ice cream, and headphones that used the Marley name to market their products. And it works. In 2015, Bob Marley was listed as the fourth highest-earning deceased celebrities.
Alleyne mentioned his concern about the Privateer name and pirate ship logo, which happened to be designed by the same marketing firm that designed the Starbuck’s logo. He claimed that the two could have negative connotations in the country of Jamaica, which was under Imperial British rule for a period of more than 300 years.
The name, Privateer, and the pirate ship logo, are undeniably reminiscent of pirates and the assault of a country at the hands of Imperialists for centuries, and would certainly be cause for concern; especially considering the undeniable anti-establishment and anti-capitalist stance that Marley held so near and dear.
“I’m not sure if anyone involved in the whole process is thinking about it, but it’s not a good conceptual foundation for this enterprise”, said Alleyne, who has discussed the commodification of Marley’s name at great length.
In addition to the above-mentioned concerns, Privateer has also come under fire misappropriating the culture of Rastafarianism without attributing the culture to Jamaica, or providing the country with any benefit.
However, Marley Natural claims that they invested a great deal of time working with and receiving invaluable information from Jamaican cannabis cultivators, as well as Bob Marley’s family, in order to duplicate the strains of ganja that Bob himself liked smoking the most.
Additionally, the company has tried their hand at philanthropy as a way to give back to the Jamaican community. Their charity aims to support maintainable businesses on the island nation. Though Privateer, which is currently located in the United States, has claimed that they intend on expanding their operations to international locations, including Jamaica, the thought of an American-based company using Bob Marley, a native Jamaican who was passionate about his country and people, as a “Marijuana Marble Man” does not bode well with some who reside on the island nation, including some of the music legend’s former bandmates.
In 2014, Bunny Wailer, one of the original Wailers of Bob Marley and The Wailers, told The Jamaica Gleaner, “The Marley Natural deal must be publicly opposed”. According to Wailer, Marley wasn’t as dedicated to the legalization of marijuana as other members of the band, such as himself and another famed Wailer, Peter Tosh.
The reggae artist also told the magazine, “Only a Jamaican company incorporating local stakeholders, the Rastafarian community, local ganja farmers, medical scientists, and investors should be allowed to market Brand Jamaica ganga first-hand”.
Respect Bunny, mad respect.
Marley Natural Products
While there are certainly some calls for concern, many are still interested in using Marley Natural products, and that’s understandable; after all, Bob Marley is literally a legend, so it stands to reason that ganja smokers and reggae fans might want to give the products a try – especially the cannabis strains, as they are said to mimic the strains that Marley himself enjoyed the most.
So, what type of products does Marley Natural offer? Let’s take a look.
As mentioned, Marley Natural’s offerings are divided into different categories: cannabis, personal care products, and lifestyle (or smoking) accessories. Let’s break down each of these categories and highlight what’s on offer in each one.
Marley Natural Core
Marley Natural Core refers to the company’s cannabis products. Bob Marley was a big proponent of health and nature, and joining the two together. He believed that creating a sustainable lifestyle with nature benefits each person on an individual level, but that it also promotes overall health, happiness, and well-being for the public at large.
Marley lived his life in harmony with nature, and in keeping with his lifestyle and strong beliefs, the cultivation, packaging, and distribution of products that Marley Natural offers is done so a mindful, eco-friendly way, keeping the health of the environment a top-priority for today and for generations of the future.
Marley Natural Core features four categories of Core cannabis products:
- Marley Green Hybrid. A blend of sativa and indica, Green Hybrid offers a calming, relaxing effect.
- Marley Gold Sativa. Offers a bit of an energy boost, creating a cerebral experience, and making it ideal for use during the day.
- Marley Red CBD Rich. CBD is hailed for its numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties, and low THC levels, and that’s exactly what this train offers.
- Marley Black Indica. Offers a more full-body experience, making you feel deeply relaxed and at peace.
- Whole Flower. The whole flower products are cultivated by independent growers, who are committed to maintaining the health and well-being of the environment. The flowers are hand-chosen for their intoxicating aroma, pleasant flavor, and ideal efficacy.
- Pre-Rolls. Marley Natural’s premium-grade pre-rolls are made with whole flower cannabis that is sourced from local, sustainable farms. The cannabis is rolled in unbleached paper, complete with a crutch filter, so you can enjoy a super-smooth hit.
- Vape Cartridges. High-grade quartz glass and metal cartridges, and a ceramic heating element, these vape cartridges feature pure CO2 cannabis oils, which are extracted using a hydrocarbon-free process, and is then followed by distillation and added 100 percent cannabis-derived terpenes.
Marley Natural also offers a variety of high-end smoking or “lifestyle” accessories. These products are designed to promote awareness and respect for nature. These products are made with premium materials, such as walnut and glass, and smoked glass, and all are tastefully designed and thoughtfully made. Examples of some of their accessories include:
- Spoon pipes
- Water pipes
- Storage lock boxes
- Ash trays
- Glass filters
Herb CEO Final Thoughts
Look, we won’t beat around the bush. The idea of a billionaire private equity bros re-animating the corpse of a legendary merchant of peace like Bob Marley for a quick buck is not something we vibe with.
We prefer to support our local community and local artisans by buying glassware and herb locally. But that said, Marley Natural is at least making an effort to have some positive impact on the world when they very easily could just unapologetically milk the name with zero lip service.
Marley really does partner with curated projects that “reflect Bob’s vision for an inclusive and compassionate community where people take care of each other and the environment”.
When the brand entered Oregon in 2016 this meant partnering with the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) well before the earth-shaking BLM movement of 2020, to promote Rise Up Expungement Day to help raise awareness of the need to expunge marijuana convictions from peoples criminal records, because well, it’s just dumb. Rise Up also fund a wide variety of organizations in Jamaica as well.
Marley Natural also say the wood featured prominently in their lineup is sourced from sustainably grown American black walnut and they try their best to use 100% recyclable packaging as well.
Life is complex. Sometimes things taste bitter and sweet at the same time. An opportunistic clan of richy riches see an opportunity to ad a zero to a bank account somewhere, and the family of the deceased give their blessing, and you’re exposing more “normies” to the world of cannabis, and have some engagement with non-profits to do actual good things, well, on the whole we’re tough pressed to pass hard judgement.
Take care of of other people and take care of the environment, at the end of the day, is what its all about and the positives and negatives here, in this context kind of balance out.
But we’ll keep supporting local 😉