With fourteen albums reaching #1 on the Billboard charts, a net worth of a billion dollars, and a marriage to Beyonce, it would seem like hip-hop artist and mogul Jay-Z has it all. Well, except for a successful cannabis business venture that is. Jay-Z is now looking to conquer the marijuana industry as well, teaming up with Caliva, a California Bay Area company with a retail location in San Jose with flower, rosin, vape cartridges, and joints available at over 200 stores across the state. Jay-Z is just the latest, and arguably the biggest, musician that has hopped into the industry, including Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, various members of Bob Marley’s family, and Melissa Etheridge.

Jay-Z narrated an animated video for the Drug Policy Alliance two years ago criticizing the failed and racist War on Drugs, and one of his stated goals with Caliva is to help those that have been incarcerated due to the Drug War. From Caliva’s press release:

Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter will enter into a multi-year partnership with Caliva as Chief Brand Strategist. He will play a crucial role driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand.
In this position, Mr. Carter will focus on and work to increase the economic participation of citizens returning from incarceration – many of who are not seeing the monetary benefits of legalization – through advocacy, job training, and overall employee and workforce development.
 
“Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level. With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos makes them the best partner for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way.” – Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter
Whenever the latest celebrity joins the cannabis market, there are a lot of eye rolls from long time industry participants and advocates. There is the legitimate notion that a lot of people with money didn’t help the cause, yet are climbing on the backs of others to make money. Willie Nelson is one example of a beloved figure as he has been an activist for legalization for years, so no one minds him launching Willie’s Reserve brand of cannabis.
 
Jay-Z, while he lacks Willie’s cache, he has put time and effort into activism in recent years, not only assisting the Drug Policy Alliance, but also helping found the Reform Alliance earlier this year, a criminal justice reform organization with fellow rapper Meek Mill. The Reform Alliance has brought in a lot of wealthy donors, creating a $50 million effort to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system.” Time will tell if Jay-Z’s partnership with Caliva will bear fruit, but I wouldn’t bet against him, and with the world’s sixth largest economy looking to fulfill its potential over the next several years, will likely see more big-time celebrities join the fray.
 
The International Cannabis Business Industry is the event to learn the latest and to network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates. Next up, is a West Coast North American tour starting with Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, this September 15-16. Discounted, early bird tickets are on sale until August 21st. After Vancouver, is San Francisco, California, on February 6-7. 

Featured photo  courtesy of Mikael ‘Mika’ Väisänen via Wiki Commons