Magazine article The New Yorker

All Natural

Magazine article The New Yorker

All Natural

Article excerpt

ALL NATURAL

"My father was the first entrepreneur in the family," Rohan Marley, the sixth of Bob Marley's eleven children, said the other day. "He started his own record label, his own restaurant. He knew that, in order to give something back to the people, he had to create. You can't be no philanthropist, no Warren Buffett, unless you make something first."

Rohan, who is forty-two, is also an entrepreneur. He has a leadership role in several of his family's businesses, including House of Marley (headphones, speakers), Zion Rootswear (T-shirts, onesies), and Marley Coffee. The family's newest venture, which will launch next year, is called Marley Natural. "It's a particular plant," Rohan said, of the company's inventory. "One that grows naturally next to the mango tree, the mint, the paprika. The Hindu sages speak of it. The rabbis speak of it." It is marijuana.

Marley Natural is a partnership between the Marley estate and Privateer Holdings, "a private equity firm shaping the future of the legal cannabis industry." (Privateer owns one of the largest providers of medical marijuana in Canada.) In a video on MarleyNatural.com, a camera rushes toward verdant mountains. "He advocates for the positive power of the herb," a voice-over says. Bob Marley, in archival footage, flips his dreadlocks. The logo is a Lion of Judah between two green leaves.

Rohan, who recently shaved his dreadlocks, wore a ruffled white shirt and a porkpie hat. He sat in the company's new office, on the Bowery. Around the table were Brendan Kennedy, the C.E.O. of Privateer, and James Estime, Marley's valet. "Three Little Birds" played on a House of Marley stereo. "James, turn the music down," Rohan said. Estime, a burly man wearing a winter vest, picked up Marley's iPhone and lowered the volume.

Marley grew up in Jamaica, and moved to the U.S. at the age of twelve. He was a star linebacker at the University of Miami, even though he was shorter than most of his teammates, who included Ray Lewis and Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson. ("Bob's boys, we're not scared of tall mountains," Marley said.) Later, he toured with the Melody Makers, his siblings' reggae band. "I was practicing to become a drummer," Marley said. "Unfortunately, at that time I was with a woman who thought my drumming was shit. She killed my spirit to be a musician." Her name is Lauryn Hill. They are no longer together. In 1999, he bought a coffee plantation in Jamaica. …

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