In the US, musicians and marijuana go together like peanut butter and jelly: Snoop Dogg and his Leafs brand, Cypress Hill and Bhang Chocolates, Melissa Etheridge and her Etheridge Farms Line of products…the list goes on. Showing that this appreciation for the green knows no borders, Canadian band Tragically Hip just announced a partnership with medical marijuana company Newstrike.
“After much discussion and assessment on our part, we’ve decided that this company — and the many creative people in it — are a perfect fit for The Hip,” announced the band in a recent news release.
Newstrike executive chairman Scott Kelly said, “No one knows Canada and Canadians like the members of The Tragically Hip. With their involvement and support, Newstrike firmly believes we are developing the brand that adult consumers who choose to use cannabis will turn to.”
A news release from the company cited the opportunity for “harnessing the artistic and business acumen of the band members in brand development within the government’s evolving regulatory framework.”
The Tragically Hip says it chose Newstrike because of its “due diligence” in entering the market.
“They’ve hired pre-eminent scientists and growers, developed large, well-structured sites and have the wherewithal and expertise to take this on,” wrote the band on their website.
According to a May regulatory filing, The Tragically Hip has a “comprehensive licensing and promotional services agreement” with HPI Holdings Ltd., which was taken over by Newstrike effective Feb. 3.
Under the agreement, the band will get 2.5 percent of gross revenues “from the sale of products bearing the brand or likeness of The Tragically Hip.” The band also received three million shares in the company, plus “a non-refundable advance payment against future royalties of $1,000,000.”
The timing for this deal is well-planned, coming more than a year before Ottawa’s promised date for recreational marijuana legalization, a policy change that the band supports.
When the government’s Cannabis Act, becomes law, it will place significant restrictions on how marijuana can be marketed and advertised.
Promoting marijuana, accessories, or related services “by means of a testimonial or endorsement” would be prohibited under the current version of Bill C-45, as would Promotions “by means of the depiction of a person” and any promotions that allude to “a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.”
Experts in Canada’s burgeoning cannabis industry claim that companies like Newstrike may be trying to secure celebrity endorsements before those laws go into effect.
However, once legislation is passed, that type of marketing may continue to exist inside age-restricted retail stores or websites, similar to the standard in U.S. states where recreational marijuana has been legalized.
“I don’t think you’ll see it in magazines, billboards, and televisions in Canada, but you may see it in storefronts or websites,” said Will Stewart, managing partner at the strategy and communications firm Navigator on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.