Merle Haggard Marijuana to Enter Colorado Market

Country legend helped develop recreational sativa strain Merle's Girls before his death

Merle Haggard's name will be attached to a new strain of marijuana. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Merle's Girls, a recreational strain of marijuana developed by the late Merle Haggard, will hit the Colorado market soon.

Once hailed as a conservative cowboy whose 1969 hit "Okie from Muskogee" seemed to preach the values of a drug-free lifestyle, Haggard warmed up to weed during his later years, relying on the plant – particularly its sativa species, which he used as a stimulant – to help maintain a heavy touring schedule well into his Seventies. With help from his family, including daughter Jenessa Haggard-Bennett and son-in-law Brian Bennet, he began growing medical marijuana on his 280-acre property in California. Haggard hoped to expand the operation to Colorado, where the recreational use of marijuana was legalized in 2012, although he passed away before the product could hit the market. Since his death in April 2016, his relatives – in conjunction with business partners from Colorado Weed Co., an operation based in Pueblo, CO – have continued working to bring those cannabis strains to statewide dispensaries.

"The sativas kept him going, kept him creative, kept him getting out there and being able to play," says Colorado Weed Co.'s Michael Smith in an interview with the Denver-based alt-weekly newspaper Westword. Appropriately, Merle's Girls initial launch will include a sativa strain, although the company will expand its product line – including a medical blend – in the coming years. If all goes according to plan, Oregon, Washington and California will also soon carry the product.

Named after a California-based girls soccer team sponsored by Haggard, Merle's Girls will arrive less than two years after his pot-friendly duet with Willie Nelson. "It's All Going to Pot" hit the market on April 20th, 2015 – 4/20, perhaps not coincidentally – as the lead single from the pair's album Django and Jimmie. Fittingly, Nelson recently launched his own line of cannabis products, with Willie's Reserve offering marijuana varieties like Lemon Skunk and Dream Berry Haze.