Trademark licensing has been a notable factor in the marijuana industry since at least 2015—especially involving musicians, chefs, cannabis brands, and related lifestyle labels—and has been growing as more states and countries legalize the production, sale, and use of the substance. (Colorado and Washington were the first states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational use, in 2012.) This summer has brought new licensing activity into the space, including these three brand-extension deals:
- Last week, The Woodstock Cannabis Company, an affiliate of Woodstock Ventures, licensor of the Woodstock music festival brand, granted California dispensary MedMen Enterprises the right to create and market branded marijuana products such as pens, drops, and gels.
- Also last week, Kush Queen, a high-end cannabis brand, formed a strategic partnership with California dispensary Connected Cannabis Co. for a line of psychoactive skincare and cosmetics, to launch in spring 2019.
- In July, Authentic Brands Group paired with Canadian cannabis company Invictus and its producer Acreage Pharms to develop dried flowers, consumables, oils, and concentrates tied to a number of discontinued lifestyle brands in ABG’s archives. They include Garden of Earthly Delights (originally a denim brand), Zooey (rooted in accessories and apparel), and Sinister (known best in the past as a mixed martial arts brand).
Taken together, these deals suggest that licensing in the still-emerging cannabis industry is moving toward sustainable, long-term brand extension, as opposed to deals that are more on the novelty end of the spectrum; the latter help generate awareness in the early days of a business, but can be less likely to endure over time. Of course, in such a young industry there will be many properties of all types—within reason, given the nature of the category—that will experiment to see if they can find a place.