Marley Natural: Inside Reggae Dynasty’s Splashy L.A. Cannabis Launch
“This is Bob’s night,” Stephen Marley shouted to a crowded living room high up in the Hollywood Hills. Saturday was Bob Marley‘s birthday, and his son — bearded with dreads past his shoulders, an acoustic guitar across one knee — paid tribute to the late reggae icon with a performance of Marley classics, from “Jammin'” to “Three Little Birds,” as the family name was being celebrated for a new venture.
The night’s party marked the debut of Marley Natural, a new company instigated by the family to create and market cannabis products and accessories. Scattered across the property overlooking nighttime Los Angeles were glowing display cases showing off jars of Marley-brand marijuana, pipes, cannabis oil, hemp-seed body wash and more.
On the color-coded labels is the regal image of a lion, alongside these notices: “Marley Natural promotes a worldwide vision for positive change” and “For medical use only.” Company packaging is heavy on earth tones, with a vintage quote from the Tuff Gong himself: “Herb is a plant. Herb is good for everything.”
Stephen “Ragga” Marley, a Grammy-winning reggae artist who was nine when his father died from cancer in 1981, called the new company family “destiny.” “As a people, as a culture in Jamaica, as a Rastaman, herb is such a big part of our life. It’s a sacrament to us,” Marley, 43, told Rolling Stone. “People are getting educated about this plant — not just a get-high thing, but what the plant is, was and what it has to offer as a plant. That is the greatest thing: People are getting educated and make their own decisions.”
Party guests were advised to secure legal California medical-marijuana cards ahead of the event. For those who didn’t, there were forms by the door and near-instant authorization. Inside the large modern home were live reggae and DJs, jerk chicken and open bars, and a booth on the back patio where guests lined up for free samples of Marley herb.
Behind the counter was a team of Marley Natural sales reps, explaining the range of marijuana products, from the heavier “Indica” strain to the “Gold” and “Hybrid” options with lower levels of psychoactive THC. Of the physical effects, Jeff Hastings lifted a jar of Gold and said, “You’re not going to be sitting down. You’re going to be going out. You’re going to be writing or painting or drawing. You’re going to be outside doing stuff.”
A spliff of Indica burned between Stephen Marley’s fingers much of the night, and he carried his own private stash of ganja. “I wanted to have a strain of herb that represents integrity,” he said of the Marley weed. “Just clean good herbs.”
In the crowd were other Marley brothers and grandkids. Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sat with friends who flipped through the first issue of the biannual Marley Natural magazine. Emily Kokal and Jenny Lee Lindberg from Warpaint arrived during a break from the recording studio.