Celebrity Apprentice: 5 Questions with Julian Marley

by John Schroyer

Forty-year-old Julian Marley is one of the scions of perhaps the most famous cannabis enthusiast in history, Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley. So perhaps it was inevitable that Julian Marley wound up getting into the cannabis industry with his own branded line of marijuana flower, edibles and concentrates called Julian Marley JuJu Royal.

The company shouldn’t be confused with Marley Natural, a separate business venture by Privateer Holdings and other Marley family members. JuJu Royal is owned by a Colorado-based company called Dropleaf, but both Marley brands launched in Washington State – Marley Natural in February this year and JuJu Royal in 2014.

Another thing the two companies have in common, aside from the family lineage, is they both aspire to be global brands. JuJu Royal has already expanded to California and Colorado, with products available in roughly 250 rec shops and dispensaries, and the line will be available in Oregon beginning in May.

Julian Marley made a stop in Denver in early March this year for a formal launch party of his “ultra-premium” product line, and Marijuana Business Magazine sat down with him to discuss the industry and his business aims.

Tell me about the company, your goals and your level of involvement with Dropleaf.

It’s only natural that me, as a Rasta man, and many people from my culture get into this kind of business. It’s something that we’ve been speaking about – the legalization of herb – for decades.

For me personally, it’s about making sure that we’re dealing with all the right organics, no pesticides. Everybody wants clean strains, (just as they want) clean food to eat and clean water to drink. That’s the aim. That’s another reason why I’m here (in Denver). I’m going to be looking at different strains, testing out the strains.

At the moment, I’m going to be the face and spokesman of the company. And I’m going to be an advocate for the herb. As the business grows, who knows? We’re taking it day-by-day.

How did you decide to get into the cannabis industry?

I was approached through a close friend who’s kind of connected. It happened from there. I said, “Sounds good. Let’s hear some more.” I wasn’t really thinking about it. I smoke herb for spiritual reasons. So business, that’s good, but I wasn’t thinking about, “I’m going to get into the herb and see what I can do.”

Do you see JuJu Royal as being in competition with Marley Natural? How do you differentiate the brands?

The world is big enough for everybody. The same people that come and watch my show come and watch my brother’s show and watch my sister’s show. So we have the same core. You just have to make sure everything is done right.

What do you think the industry is doing right, and what is it doing wrong?

The industry is moving right, since everyone’s getting more knowledge about how to do the right things, how to grow certain strains and how to keep it pure. There’s been a lot of research. My thing is just organics, because I don’t want nothing that’s polluting me.

What advice do you have for companies that are looking to work with celebrities?

It’s not easy. Find the real people that are advocates for the herb. And keep it real. Especially when they call it “marijuana business.” The word “business,” I’d like to think everyone who’s in the business is smoking the herb. You have to smoke some of it to (understand the plant). Herb is a sacred, sacramental plant that we use. It’s very special.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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