In 2020, a Netflix documentary called Tiger King, about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, best known as Joe Exotic, went viral.
The self-named Joe Exotic was once the king of a famous exotic animal park located in Oklahoma. The documentary shocked people as it revealed how he and his lovers, and staff, would shoot and drug tigers as well as other exotic animals, among other crazy things like murder for hire, and violations of wildlife protection crimes. Audiences felt relief when Tiger King was sentenced to prison for 22 years at a Fort Worth correctional facility for 17 wildlife charges plus two counts of murder for hire.
Now, he’s getting ready to launch his very own cannabis product line from federal prison. Last week, he announced via twitter that he, together with his lawyer Brad Small, signed on a license venture with THC Group and Cannabis in order to come up with a range of marijuana products that they will be selling under the infamous Tiger King brand to California, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
“They will include edibles and various top shelf exotic strains. The products will be sold in dispensaries in these three states. It’s the Joe Exotic strain of Cannabis, CBD and Edibles,” writes Joseph Maldonado-Passage on Twitter. “Ask your dispensary for a Joe Exotic and smoke a Joe.”
Small’s role was primarily to serve as a mediator between Maldonado-Passage in prison, as well as his new business partners. He is reportedly involved directly in the new business line. According to a TMZ report, Maldonado-Passage agreed to sign the deal to help people who need cannabis for medicinal reasons, since part of the profits will be channeled to helping nonprofits that are taking care of captive tigers.
Small also made an announcement of the June 18 auction which was held to sell both tangible and non-fungible items including some of the jackets that Joe Exotic wore in the documentary. Other items included his favorite gun, a bikini worn by porn star Rachel Starr in the show, audio recording of Joe Exotic from jail, and digital artwork. “I hope whoever purchases my favorite belongings is able to give them a well-deserved home,” Joe Exotic disclosed to Fox Business in the past. “Being able to auction off collectibles makes me feel connected with the outside world, especially without my cats by my side. Whether you love me or hate me for what you think I’ve done, there’s no doubt that everyone wants a piece of the Tiger King!”
For those of you who haven’t seen the documentary and are wondering what the relationship of Tiger King is to cannabis, it’s the fact that his husband Travis was a huge pothead. In the documentary, Travis was portrayed to be a deeply troubled teenager that Joe ended up marrying and it seemed that he was relying heavily on pot to survive his mental and physical pains.
Joe Exotic Is Just The Latest Celebrity To Cash In On Cannabis
It’s a known fact that slapping the name of a celebrity onto any product can help companies make extra cash. So considering just how popular recreational cannabis is getting, why not do the same?
Celebrities have been doing this for years now – partnering with cannabis companies or even launching their own cannabis line. There’s no limit to what they can do with cannabis businesses these days, even making their own strains if they’d want to. There’s Wille Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart, Tommy Chong, and Jim Belushi to name a few, so Joe Exotic is only the latest of them and we can only expect to see many more get churned out. And while those are some of the more common names of people who have long associated themselves as cannabis users, don’t forget there are also endorsements by Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Z, and many others.
There are varying rules and regulations surrounding celebrity cannabis endorsements as well as marketing in every state until now, primarily because cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance. Because of this, it would be wise for any celebrity, or influencer at that, to consult with a lawyer before deciding to partner with a cannabis brand.
The truth is, all this publicity for cannabis is a tremendously positive thing. Though of course the celebs can also earn profits from it, supporting cannabis use is a big help in destigmatizing the drug. Even though the administration is still fairly new, the cannabis industry is still facing a political battle especially in the fight to get it federally legalized. For these reasons and more, the cannabis space clearly needs strong and popular allies.
Getting celebrities involved can uplift the cannabis industry, helping normalize it while also helping the herb appeal to a wider audience. The popularity of cannabis will only continue to grow mainstream, bringing a some fun and dynamism to an industry that drastically needs a big push towards legalization.