What do country singer Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Whoopi Goldberg and Hunter S. Thompson have in common? Not only are they all icons in their own right but they may soon be trademarked, or at least their pot products will be. They are just a handful of an expanding number of celebs who are (or were) marijuana advocates and regular smokers who themselves, or their still-living relatives, have an eye on the burgeoning pot market.
Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office won’t issue trademarks to protect marijuana brands, so marijuana companies that can afford it—like investor-backed celebrity brands—are turning to state lawmakers for help.
Enter Rob Bonta, a Democratic assemblyman from Alameda, who introduced a bill that would grant cannabis companies state trademarks. The bill could ban marijuana billboards near freeways and provide money to develop standards for testing impaired drivers. Law enforcement officials who opposed the legalization of recreational pot have yet to take a position on this motion.
The pot-loving celebrities mentioned above have fame and backstory with the drug to help them get attention in this matter, including the children of the late Bob Marley. The reggae singer was at the forefront of the global legalization movement and now, backed by a Seattle venture capital firm, so is his oldest daughter. She launched Marley Natural back in in 2014 and the products already are available in California medical dispensaries.
Before any trademarks are granted, California’s regulators must first decide who will receive the first licenses to grow, distribute and sell recreational marijuana. Those who are already cleared to sell medical marijuana in California could be the first in line for the trademarks. Right now, those regulators are busy working with growers and sellers right now to get California’s adult-use pot market launched; the race is on to issue all the necessary licenses by early 2018.