CBD product introductions are proliferating, and the pet industry remains a strong opportunity for licensed properties. These two facts—along with a love of animals and support for CBD in general—have led a number of celebrities to announce deals for CBD-infused pet products:
• Willie Nelson. Nelson has long been associated with cannabis (under the Willie’s Reserve brand) and CBD (Willie’s Remedy). He now has added hemp-derived CBD products for dogs, cats, and horses under the new Willie’s Rescue brand. Some of the proceeds will go to support animal adoption and rescue programs. Nelson has long been an animal advocate as well as a proponent of cannabis use. All of his cannabis activities are in partnership with GCH, an IP development company that is building a portfolio of cannabis brands.
• Martha Stewart. Pet products will be the first introduction coming out of Stewart’s partnership with cannabis company Canopy Growth, where she serves as an advisor and is helping create CBD products for humans as well as pets. Stewart has many pets of her own and has long been a proponent of pet health and wellness.
• The Dog Whisperer. Dog Whisperer Productions forged a deal with Unitrex for branded pet products, with a line of CBD-infused essential oils among them. Other items in the assortment include aromatherapy, travel accessories, leashes, toys, beds, grooming products, and more, all of which come with training tips. All American Licensing represents The Dog Whisperer.
• Spuds MacKenzie. A Spuds Ventures-owned dog that is trading on the popularity of the Bud Light celebrity spokesdog of the 1990s, this Spuds is a completely separate animal and breed with no connection to the original. The new Spuds recently debuted a line of hemp and CBD dog treats, initially available online with plans for retail distribution in the future. A court decision confirmed Spuds Ventures’ rights to the Spuds MacKenzie name for pet products; Anheuser-Busch retains the IP (and the original likeness) for most other categories.
• Jonathan David. David, a celebrity dog groomer who works with a raft of Hollywood clients, owns a Florida pet spa, and stars in two shows on Animal Planet, endorsed CBD Dog Health. He believes that grooming and health go hand-in-hand when it comes to pets and has become known as an expert on nutrition and healthcare as well as grooming. CBD Dog Health specializes in CBD-infused oil tinctures, salves, and treats for dogs, cats, and horses, and offers specific formulations for travel anxiety, PTSD and cancer pain, skin ailments, and other conditions.
• Ashley Tisdale. In 2018, actress Tisdale served as a brand ambassador for Happy Hempies, a CBD-infused dog treat that she used to calm her dog Maui, who suffered from panic attacks. Tisdale’s fans were acquainted with Maui and her struggles through Tisdale’s social media feeds and appearances in traditional media.
All of these products are derived from industrial hemp, which contains less than .3% THC and does not produce a high. As with CBD products for humans, they are purported to be useful in treating a range of conditions, from anxiety and arthritis to inflammation and allergies. It should be noted that the deals listed here all take a form other than licensing, from joint ventures, to advisory roles, to endorsements. This tends to be true of many celebrity deals involving CBD and cannabis products for humans as well.
New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm and publisher of Hemp Business Journal, predicts sales of hemp-derived CBD products for pets and animals will reach $135 million in the U.S. in 2019, up from $48 million in 2018 and $13 million in 2017. The company predicts that sales could reach $298 million by 2022. Meanwhile, the big North American pet products trade show, SuperZoo, saw the number of exhibitors touting products with CBD grow from four in 2017 to 58 in 2019.
If you are interested in an introduction to the legal landscape that underlies the growing cannabis market, take a look at Global Cannabis Industry: An Essential Primer. Written by Karen Raugust for Meritas Law Firms Worldwide, a global network of small and mid-sized law firms, the paper is not about licensing opportunities per se, but it provides a starting point for anyone who wants to know more about the legal and regulatory status that impacts commercial ventures in this complicated and ever-changing industry.