The world's most famous reggae singer is on the verge of becoming the Marlboro Man of Marijuana: The Bob Marley estate has licensed the Legend singer's name and likeness to create a special blend of herb dubbed Marley Natural.
Marley's widow Rita Marley and children Cedella and Rohan have teamed up with Privateer Holdings, a private equity group specializing in the legal marijuana market, to exclusively mass-produce those "heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains" that Marley himself smoked to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer the face of the herb revolution. Privateer also owns Tilray, a 60,000-square-foot property on Vancouver Island, British Columbia that ranks as the world's largest marijuana grow farm.
Although the blend won't hit the States where pot is legal – which now includes Alaska and Oregon – until late-2015, Marley is now positioned to become the face of a movement to legalize weed not just in America but worldwide. "Bob Marley started to push for legalization more than 50 years ago. We're going to help him finish it," Privateer Holdings CEO Brendan Kennedy told NBC News.
"It just seems natural that Daddy should be part of this conversation," Cedella Marley, 47, the reggae legend's first-born daughter, told NBC News in a taped statement. "As Daddy would say, 'make way for the positive day.'" Son Rohan Marley added, "Herb is for the healing of the nation; herb is for the meditation; herb is for the higher vibrations."
Rita Marley, who was once a member of Marley's backup singing group the I Threes, said in a statement, "You can depend on Bob, too. He’s 100 percent behind what is happening. He's happy because this is what we dreamed of," referring to marijuana legalization. "It was unruly for them to call it weed or drugs. We saw it as a spiritual thing, given to us by God." The Marley family also shared a commercial for the Marley Natural, as well as the blend's logo, a dread lion positioned between two pot leaves.
Marley finished ninth on Forbes' most recent list of the top-earning dead celebrities, with annual earnings of around $20 million for his estate (not including all the bootlegged clothing and paraphernalia featuring the singer's likeness). With the release of Marley Natural Fine Cannabis, and with the legal weed industry in America already at $50 billion and climbing with every state that decriminalizes marijuana, Marley's estate can expect to rocket up the posthumous earnings list in the near future.
Check out the NBC News report on Marley Natural: