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Seattle Times coverage of pot policy, culture and lifestyle.

November 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Investment firm behind Leafly to launch ‘global brand’ with Bob Marley’s family

The Marley family. (Photo provided by Privateer Holdings)

The Marley family. (Photo provided by Privateer Holdings)

Seattle’s Privateer Holdings, an investment firm that finances pot-related businesses, will partner with the family of reggae singer Bob Marley to launch a “global” brand called Marley Natural, which will call New York City home. The company plans to hire about 25 people to begin work on developing the Marley brand and products.

Brendan Kennedy, the CEO of Privateer, said his firm was approached more than a year and a half ago by the Marley family, who he said “had been thinking about the cannabis industry for years.”

Marley Natural plans to offer “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains inspired by those Bob Marley enjoyed” in places where pot is legally allowed late next year, according to a news release. It will also offer pot-infused tinctures, lotions and pot accessories.

“Marley Natural is an authentic way to honor his legacy by adding his voice to the conversation about cannabis and helping end the social harms caused by prohibition,” said Cedella Marley, Bob’s daughter, in the news release. Privateer’s backing and its global aim suggests the Marley family sees the new brand as a lucrative way to honor the musician’s legacy, as well.

Kennedy said the family will receive a royalty payment and that they “participate in Privateer Holdings at the equity level.” The family will also help “ensure Bob’s voice is incorporated.”

Privateer Holdings is best known for acquiring Leafly, a Yelp-like website for pot strains and stores, in 2011. It also owns Tilray, a Canadian medical-marijuana company. Recent SEC filings show Privateer is seeking up to $75 million in investor money. Kennedy said the company has raised about $50 million so far from more than 40 investors.

In the past, Privateer has avoided funding businesses in the United States that directly deal with marijuana because of federal law. Kennedy said that won’t change and that Marley Natural will operate in accordance with federal law.

“To operate in Washington state, we would be able to market our accessories and ancillary products immediately and offer them for sale online or in retail stores,” said Kennedy. “We don’t currently intend to apply for an I-502 producer, processor or retailer license. Not yet anyway.”

Kennedy said the company could license out its brand to producers or processors already operating in Washington state.

“We have talked to a number of people who have some Jamaican (marijuana plant) genetics in Washington state already,” said Kennedy.

Comments | More in News | Topics: marley natural, privateer holdings, tilray

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