Over the course of his 81 years of life Willie Nelson has been known for many things—as the singer-songwriter behind classic country hits like “Crazy” and “On the Road Again,” as an actor in both films and television, as the author of multiple best-selling books, a high-profile violator of United States Tax Code, and an environmental activist, but it is perhaps only now, with the announcement that 2016 will see the launch of “Willie’s Reserve” branded marijuana strains, dispensaries and associated paraphernalia, that he has embarked upon the endeavor by which the future will most surely know his name.
The product line was first revealed by Michael Bowman, the brand’s spokesperson, in an interview with The Daily Beast earlier this week. Bowman referred to the upcoming Willie’s Reserve as “… a culmination of Willie’s vision, and his whole life” and pitches the brand as a sort of strike against the tyranny of prohibition. Bowman also mentioned the possibility of Willie’s Reserve dispensaries distributing other strains grown along the environmental and quality specification that match the brand’s mission and core beliefs, bringing up the Whole Foods grocery chain as a point of comparison.
Celebrities seeking success in creating personal brands is nothing new. Director Francis Ford Coppola is now a successful vintner and the proprietor of an associated winery resort in California, actor Paul Newman is already on the verge of being better known as the grinning old man on the salad dressing than the brooding heartthrob at the heart of “Cool Hand Luke.” Willie Nelson isn’t even the first celebrity in the marijuana game, the Bob Marley estate having licensed the singer’s likeness to create the Marley Natural strain, which is due for release sometime this year.
Although Bowman is vague when it comes to the specifics of the line, it seems as though the overarching plan for Willie’s Reserve is to create a full-on lifestyle brand for marijuana enthusiasts looking for quality strains and a sophisticated smoking experience.
This is a new and relatively untested market, and if it turns out as to be a lucrative one, the sky is the limit as far as what other celebrities might want to cash in on their names and reputations. Imagine if Cheech and Chong lent their names to a franchise of 1960s retro-style head shops, for example. Imagine if Susan Sarandon were to create a brand targeting upscale aging female smokers—a dispensary/spa hybrid? Celebrities and cannabis could be the ultimate match made in pop culture profit.