Mar­ley mar­i­juana! What’s next, Lou Reed heroin?

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE - JOHN WALSH

BOB MAR­LEY has been push­ing up daisies for 30 years now, yet it hasn’t stopped the forces of Baby­lon from cash­ing in on his name.

The Mar­ley fam­ily has struck a deal with a New York-based pri­vate eq­uity firm to flog “Mar­ley Nat­u­ral” cannabis.

I heard about the new brand on the se­date air­waves of Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme, where a mar­ket­ing whip­per­snap­per from Pri­va­teer Hold­ings, which owns Mar­ley Nat­u­ral, said: “We’ve been in­vest­ing sig­nif­i­cant amounts in the cannabis mar­ket for years,” as if he were dis­cussing elec­tric cars rather than nar­cotics.

He as­sured lis­ten­ers that “no­body on the face of the Earth is more as­so­ci­ated with cannabis than Bob”, which is true, though I’d like to think Mar­ley is still best known for mak­ing re­ally quite good mu­sic.

Sure he smoked a lot of dope, but it seems rather a nerve to ap­pro­pri­ate just one side of him to flog mer­chan­dise. Mar­ley Nat­u­ral won’t just be shift­ing “heir­loom Jamaican cannabis strands”, but hemp-in­fused cream and lip balms too.

Mar­ley’s daugh­ter, Cedella, has en­dorsed the ini­tia­tive with an en­thu­si­asm that’s un­der­stand­able for some­one who stands to make a colos­sal wedge of cash: US le­gal mar­i­juana sales are pre­dicted to reach $2.3 bil­lion (R25.3bn) next year.

“My dad would be so happy to see peo­ple un­der­stand­ing the heal­ing power of the herb,” she gushed, body swerv­ing the word “drug”, and went on: “Mar­ley Nat­u­ral is an au­then­tic way to hon­our his legacy by adding his voice to the con­ver­sa­tion about cannabis and help­ing end the so­cial harms caused by pro­hi­bi­tion.”

I love this stuff about “heal­ing” and “authenticity” and “legacy”. As for the “so­cial harms” caused by ban­ning drugs, would th­ese be the equiv­a­lent of the harms done to my friends who de­vel­oped se­vere men­tal prob­lems from smoking cannabis?

Let me not get preachy. Let’s just con­sider who else’s “legacy” might use­fully be mer­chan­dised in the fu­ture.

Lou Reed: “It’s what Lou would have wanted,” laughed Bradley T Hack­en­sack, of Shark En­ter­prises Inc, “though we were too scared to ap­proach him di­rectly while he was alive. We think mar­ket­ing Wild Side heroin, the finest opium-de­riv­a­tive money can buy, sub­tly but au­then­ti­cally cut with bak­ing soda and French chalk, and pack­aged with top-qual­ity sy­ringes, is the best way to hon­our his legacy.”

Jim Mor­ri­son: “He lived too fast and died too young,” said Re­nata Glock­en­bush of Ex­ploit’ Em All inc, “and it’s true that, in his lat­ter days, his weight bal­looned and he liked ex­pos­ing him­self on stage. But we feel giv­ing fans a chance to buy the ‘Peo­ple Are Strange’ flasher’s mac with replica plas­tic gen­i­talia is an au­then­tic way to con­nect them to na­ture as he liked to cel­e­brate it.”

Ol’ Dirty Bas­tard of the Wu-Tang Clan: “Yes, he made some records and was a main­stream rap­per with the Ku Klux Klan,” nod­ded DeFor­est L Deluca, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sin­cere-Trib­ute Mer­chan­dis­ing, “but of course he’s best known for as­sault, rob­bery, shoplift­ing, crim­i­nal threat, at­tempted mur­der, pos­sess­ing firearms and ad­dic­tion to crack co­caine. And he was al­ways be­ing shot at. We think fans will feel closer to their hero by pur­chas­ing this au­then­tic, state-of-the-art ‘Spin On This, MoFo’ bul­let-proof vest, ac­ces­sorised with 20 vials of heir­loom crack in the fob pocket. It’s a fit­ting trib­ute to a great guy.” – The In­de­pen­dent

PIC­TURE: DAVID MCNEW / REUTERS

POT OF MONEY: Bob Mar­ley’s fam­ily and a Seat­tle-based pri­vate eq­uity firm an­nounced ear­lier this week that they were launch­ing the first global cannabis brand with mar­i­juana prod­ucts sold un­der a name long tied to the herb.

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