Bob Marley’s kids launch a new cannabis ‘lifestyle brand’ in Oregon

On Wednesday, Marley Natural–the “official Bob Marley cannabis brand”–unveiled its cannabis-based lifestyle products at Nectar in Portland and the craziest part was how normal it was.

Set up on tables in the lobby of the dispensary was the merchandise, minus any actual cannabis–that was in the back room. This included candles, lotion, oils and marijuana tools made out of tasteful black walnut. The press kits came in canvas bags with Marley Natural’s lion logo and included an essential oil rollerball applicator filled with hemp seed oil and “Jamaican botanicals” as well as a copy of the company’s “inaugural issue” of their “biannual magazine dedicated to cannabis, clean living, and the legacy of Bob Marley.”

The magazine is large, with matte pages filled to the edges with beautiful photos of Jamaica. It’s like “Kinfolk” for grown-ups who smoke weed.

Marley Natural is an interesting company. It’s a classy marijuana brand on one hand, but also, as spokesperson Zack Hutson told me as he walked me through the products arrayed at Nectar, it’s a lifestyle brand that “mirrors the Marley ethos.”

What that means in practice is that the company is actually owned by Bob Marley’s children who run his estate, and that only part of what Marley Natural does involves selling flower. The majority of their products, for example, don’t contain any THC at all. Their lotions and oils are actually…just lotions and oils. They aren’t topicals, have no THC or CBD, and can be purchased online anywhere in the United States.

The flower that is sold in Oregon is all outdoor, sun grown in the Applegate Valley. They have four varieties, all of which can be bought as an eighth, as oil or in a pre-roll. There’s an indica, a sativa, a high CBD strain and a hybrid strain.

Marley Natural is the kind of company that signals what the future of weed might look like. Spoiler alert: It may be related to Bob Marley, but not in the way that has become synonymous with him–there’s no tie-dye, dorm room posters or white boy dreadlocks in sight.

Instead, you get professional spokespeople, like Huston, and a coherent social mission that makes the whole “lifestyle brand” talk seem kind of accurate.

Hutson says that part of Marley Natural’s way of channeling Bob Marley is to “strive toward a better future” and “alleviate some of the harms associated with prohibition.” To that end, on Saturday the company will join the Minority Cannabis Business Association for Rise Up Oregon Expungement Day, where, according to the press release about the event, “participants will, within 2 hours, complete all steps necessary to file their request for expungement with the state of Oregon, including covering all costs and fees.”

Though the company is based in New York, the cannabis industry is forced to stay local because flower must be grown in the state where it’s sold. Marley Natural’s decision to add a local social justice mission is good PR but it also might just be good. On Saturday, they plan to expunge 20 records.

Still, it’s a bit of a shock to see how mainstream the cannabis industry can be. Soon, undoubtedly, there will come a time when it won’t seem strange to go talk to a spokesperson at 10 a.m. about the relative merits of a substance that is still sending kids to prison. But for now, like the final episode of “Weeds,” the whole experience remains a little surreal.

You can get Marley Natural’s products at all Serra and Nectar dispensaries in the Portland metro area and in Eugene. The non-cannabis products are also available online.

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