Country cannabis outlaw and icon Willie Nelson entered the Michigan cannabis market, debuting his cannabis brand in the state last week.
Michigan is the eighth state so far to sell flower from the singer-songwriter’s exclusive cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve, which will be available at all Puff locations and several other dispensaries across the state.
Nelson has earned his name in the cannabis world after decades of support. Now at 90 years old, Nelson has attributed cannabis—a secret to a long life—as a main driving force in quitting cigarettes and alcohol, his lifetime battles with addiction. He’s ready to share his cannabis brand, now in Michigan, which is something that he can truly stand behind.
Willie’s Reserve is working with Lansing, Michigan-based Aardvark Industrees to supply dispensaries with the flower. The strains are potent, ranging from 24% to 30% THC, with names such as Cousin Strawberry G (Cousin Larry x Strawberry Cough) or Hitman OG (OG Kush x Unknown Hybrid Indica). Details about Willie’s Reserve-specific strains in the area have not yet been released. The brand sends a variety of pre-rolls, eighths, and quarter jars, among other products. You can check the website to find where Aardvark Industrees cannabis can be found.
“This model is twofold in its purpose—first to help meet the expected demand of the product and, secondly, to support small independent growers in the state,” Hilary Dulany, an Aardvark Industrees partner, said in a statement. “By working with smaller growers, we can ensure that the product we bring to market is truly Willie-worthy while being able to pivot with market demand.”
Aardvark Industrees is also handling local operations of Cheech’s Stash, a brand created by comedian and actor Cheech Marin, one-half of the duo Cheech & Chong.
Crain’s calls Michigan the second largest cannabis market in the United States, based on Headset research.
Starting Oct. 25, Willie’s Reserve will be available at 15 dispensaries statewide, including Stone Depot in Jackson, Green Stem in Niles, Verts Neighborhood Dispensary in Traverse City, Mood Center Line in Center Line, Planet 420 in Flint, Endo in Adrian, and all off Puff locations in Bay City, Traverse City, Hamtramck, Kalamazoo, Madison Heights, Monroe, Oscoda, River Rouge, Sturgis, and Utica.
“We’re drawn to brands that are also pioneers and cannabis risk-takers,” Dulany said. “We want the brands we grow for and work with to be aligned with us personally and professionally.”
The Spread of Willie’s Reserve
Nelson launched Willie’s Reserve in 2015, starting out with simple labeling and stock tins. Building on a long career of singing about and advocating for cannabis use, Willie’s Reserve represents “a culmination of [Nelson’s] vision, and his whole life,” according to company spokesman Michael Bowman.
In 2016, Nelson opened shop in three states: Washington, Colorado, and Washington. And it wasn’t long until Willie’s Reserve started appearing on dispensary shelves in Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada. In October, 2017, Nelson announced his cannabis line was headed for California after the passage of Prop. 64, opening the doors for the largest state cannabis market in the U.S. at the time.
Nelson was interviewed by High Times in 2005, along with his old pal Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, and even Bob Dylan made a quick cameo appearance during the interview.
“Yeah, I knew I was killing myself with cigarettes, and I knew I was really putting myself in danger with drinking so much, so somewhere along the way I decided, ‘Wait a minute! You know, do what you can do’,” Nelson told High Times. “In the early years, I drank all the time. Mainly before pot. Up until then, I was into whiskey and uppers. You know, that’s the deal. Truck drivers had the bennies when they made those LA turnarounds, and all that stuff was going around. All the guitar players had it.”
Nelson also admitted that you can’t have too much of a good thing.
“Moderation is always the key, even for pot,” he said in 2005. “You can overdo pot. And it’s not for the kids…. After they get 18, 21 years old, they’re going to try whatever they’re gonna try…”
Before the launch of Willie’s Reserve, Nelson used to grind up all of his weed, regardless of variety or strain, and store his ground up mixture in a large tin.
Nelson is co-founder of Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization that raises millions of dollars to promote family-owned farms, his own version of Live Aid. Truth be told, Nelson has spent a great deal of this time during his career supporting farmers.
Nelson’s son, in the band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, released their own song aptly named “High Times” and is heavily involved in the cannabis side of business with his family. Catch their cannabis, now available throughout Michigan.