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Pot-friendly Parrotheads can rejoice, as longtime cannabis advocate Jimmy Buffett has announced that he’s joining the heir of the Wrigley gum empire to launch a new line of medical marijuana products in his home state of Florida. The “Margaritaville” singer will license his “Coral Reefer” brand to Atlanta-based Surterra Holdings, who will produce a line of medical cannabis products, including vape pens, edibles, capsules, and lotions, under the line. “Cannabis is good medicine and should be made available to all who need it,” Buffett said Tuesday in a statement, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Buffett isn’t the only wealthy Floridian to throw his support behind Surterra. Last month, William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. II, former CEO of his family's massive gum and candy corporation, became chairman of the company's board after sourcing $65 million in funding. “With Beau Wrigley as chairman, Surterra possesses an understanding and capability for developing and honoring iconic brands,” said John Cohlan, chief executive of Buffett's Coral Reefer company, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Many different cannabis firms courted Buffett for such a deal, but Cohlan told the Wall Street Journal that the musician chose Surterra because it focused on the medical, not adult-use, market. “We have made a conscious decision to not go into the recreational business,” Cohlan explained. Unlike Wrigley, Buffett will not hold a stake in the company, but will receive royalties from the sale of the branded products. Surterra expects to unveil this new product line in Florida dispensaries next spring, and may later sell them in other canna-legal states.
Partnerships between celebrities, wealthy industry titans, and cannabis startups are becoming increasingly common, due in part to the fact that the federal prohibition of cannabis blocks the industry's access to many traditional investment opportunities. American canna-businesses are barred from listing on the U.S. stock market, and cannot access business loans or investments from banking institutions. As a result, many cannabis startups are turning to wealthy investors to fund their business plans.
The cannabis sector has also seen a massive influx of investment from several leaders of the alcohol industry, including former Jim Beam heir Ben Kovler to current investments from Molson Coors and distribution giant Constellation Brands. Wealthy funders have recently been entering the cannabis industry from all walks of life, from former Speaker of the House and one-time prohibitionist John Boehner to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Amber Rose, and these partnerships are likely to continue as widespread acceptance of legal weed continues to grow.