Decades before cannabis advocates actually achieved it, Jamaican singer-activist Peter Tosh called on the world to “Legalize It” in his 1976 debut solo album. Now, as the movement spreads across the U.S., Canada, and Jamaica, Tosh is beginning to receive his due.
His hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, is celebrating the opening of the Peter Tosh Museum on his birthday, Oct. 19. Meanwhile, the family-administered Peter Tosh Foundation and a nascent cannabis brand —Peter Tosh 420—are working to fulfill Tosh’s life work as, the company’s website proclaims, “the Godfather of the legalization movement.”
The company is so young it has no actual product yet. Company officials are seeking angel investment and finding licensing partners to prepare for a product launch in 2017.
Daniel Lavoie, a lawyer working on development of Peter Tosh 420, told Leafly the brand will bring a new approach to legal cannabis. “What we want to try and do is stay true to what we believe what Peter would have wanted his legacy to be today, which is focus on the mind–body–spirit aspect of what he considered a sacred herb,” he said.
Tosh often extolled the connective power—both physical and spiritual—of cannabis. According to Lavoie and others involved in the company, the new brand plans to expand that vision by creating proprietary strains of all-organic, pesticide-free Peter Tosh flower. Tosh was well known for his adherence to strict natural living, with no junk food or processed chemicals. Translation: no sugary edibles or other products deemed untrue to what Tosh believed in.
Tosh—born Winston McIntosh—would have been 72 on Wednesday. Murdered in Jamaica in 1987, he was survived by 10 children. All will be figures in the organization, though some will assume more responsibility than others.
“The population that has been most penalized for cannabis in the past were minorities, and that’s the lens I approach all this through.”Niambe McIntosh, Peter Tosh's youngest daughter
The youngest of the Tosh children, Niambe McIntosh, serves as the president of PT Capital, the holding company overseeing the brand launch. A teacher in Dorchester, Mass., McIntosh told Leafly that she and the family are taking steps to ensure the strains and products produced by Peter Tosh 420 reflect songs from his music, values, and lifestyle. “We want to make sure the brand and the products maintain his integrity, and his beliefs,” she said.
The company is currently talking to growers in California and Colorado and plans to start with hybrid flowers before developing its own proprietary strains and seeds. “We don’t want to get into cannabis glass or shatter, those concentrates of 90 percent THC,” Lavoie said. “That he would have hated.”
McIntosh said the company is looking at operational models that business with philanthropy, in the vein of Paul Newman’s food products or Tom’s Shoes. Up to 10 percent of every sale, they say, will go to the Peter Tosh Foundation to be invested in on-brand causes focusing on education, legalization, and social justice causes.
“I feel like there are very few cannabis companies approaching the industry from that standpoint,” said McIntosh. “And I’m looking more at the social justice aspect of it. Unfortunately, the population that has been most penalized for cannabis in the past were minorities, and that’s the lens I approach all this through.”
There have been lots of conversations so far with growers and partners, and a lot of strategizing around current interstate commerce laws as well as how the laws may shift after the November elections.
In California, Lavoie said the focus has been on targeting the cannabis corridor around Santa Cruz, as “that seems to be the most fertile ground for the launch of a cannabis product line.”
How will this new brand be received in Tosh’s homeland? Lavoie said the next 12 to 18 months will be telling in terms of how legalization proceeds in Jamaica. But the company is nothing if not ambitious.
“By 4/20 of 2017 there will be a lot of presence for the new Tosh brand,” said Brian Latture, CEO of PT Capital and a manager who’s worked with artists such as LL Cool J and Nas.
Said Lavoie, “We want to eventually be the official cannabis brand of the island of Jamaica.”