The list of celebrities publicly touting cannabis products and forming partnerships with cannabis companies continues to expand, helping the controversial subtstance gain wider public approval. Renowned rapper Jay-Z’s recent partnership with California pot firm Caliva is just the latest example of cannabis making its way into the mainstream despite still being a banned substance by the U.S. Federal Government. Similar partnerships and support have come from lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, professional golfer Bubba Watson, former NFL star Joe Montana, and legendary rocker Gene Simmons. 

Cannabis recently became legal countrywide in Canada and is legal for medicinal use in 33 U.S. states, and for adult recreational use in 10 states. The cannabis industry is already gaining wide support on Wall Street with money flowing into cannabis investments of all kinds. Venture capital (VC) firms have already sunk $1.3 billion into 150 cannabis-related deals in the first half of 2019, surpassing the $1 billion total for all of last year. Private equity firms are also jumping in at a rate this year that is outpacing last year’s investment total of $474 million.

Publicly traded cannabis companies like Cronos, Tilray and Canopy Growth have been among the most widely traded and volatile stocks of the past year as investor interest has taken hold of the sector. While still losing money, their market values have turned them into multi-billion dollar companies, on paper.

What it Means for Investors

In his multiyear partnership as Caliva’s Chief Brand Strategist, Jay-Z, whose full legal name is Shawn Carter, is expected to play a critical role driving the company’s creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand. Caliva serves 750,000 customers in California with more than 250 retailers carrying its products, and has experienced 3.5x year-over-year growth, according to the company’s website. “With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos makes them the best partner for this endeavour,” Carter said. “We want to create something amazing, have fund in the process, do good and bring people along the way.”

In late February, Martha Stewart announced that she would be teaming up with Canopy Growth Corp. to take on an advisory role to help develop products for both humans and animals. Canopy, the world’s largest pot company, is conducting clinical trials exploring how cannabis might be beneficial to human and animal health, including the effectiveness of CBD, one of the hemp plant’s non-intoxicating compounds. “I am looking forward to working with the Canopy Growth team,” Stewart said. “I’m especially looking forward to collaborating on developing products that can help people and their treasured animal companions,” according to Bloomberg.

12-time PGA Tour winner Bubba Watson entered into a multiyear endorsement deal with cbdMD Inc. (YCBD) earlier this year. Watson, who says he has “personally felt the benefits of cbdMD’s products,” will wear the company’s logo on his hats during PGA Tour events and participate in other promotional opportunities. The PGA, however, had earlier issued a warning that CBD products could contain the psychoactive ingredient THC, which is banned by the Association. Regardless, cbdMD’s president Caryn Dunayer said, “By joining forces with one of the biggest names in the sport, we’re excited to see how the golf community embraces the newfound popularity of CBD.

Looking Ahead

Other big name stars to have offered their support for the nascent pot industry include NFL legend Joe Montana, who took part in a $75 million fundraising round for Caliva, and rock legend Gene Simmons of the band KISS, who is the “chief evangelist officer” at Invictus MD Strategies Corp. As the industry gains increasing mainstream traction, it is possible that it won’t be much longer before the U.S. Federal Government lifts its ban. If that happens, the market for marijuana products could grow to $194 billion worldwide by 2025, according to the Bank of Montreal.