It’s hard to know for sure whether David Crosby’s weed brand, Mighty Croz, will succeed, and not only because the rock-and-roll icon hasn’t launched it yet. There are many forces arrayed against him, some of them of his own creation.
Mighty Croz was announced with great fanfare more than four years ago. “HELLO WORLD,” the brand tweeted on July 12, 2018. Products, the tweet promised, were “coming soon.” The brand’s website declares that “David Crosby’s Cannabis is Coming!”
Nothing has changed over the past four years except for Crosby’s decision, in consultation with his friend and business partner Steven Sponder, to put launch plans on hold. “We’re ready to go the moment either the banking system allows for it, or federal legalization happens,” Crosby says in a Q&A on his site. “We’ve got it all planned out. We have our strains, we’ve spoken with and met with all the major cannabis companies…We have an excellent brand and plan ready to go.”
It’s hard to know how accurate that is. We don’t know which “strains” he’s talking about, or what “ready to go” means. Sponder told me this week that the two continue to talk to pot companies and growers. They have visited dispensaries, he said, “like that one in L.A.—I can’t remember the name of it, it looks like an Apple store.” Sponder, a serial entrepreneur in the restaurant and software businesses, has zero cannabis experience. He has been pals with Crosby for decades.
The plan, Sponder said, is to license Crosby’s name and image to a big pot company, as many celebs have done.
The strategy of waiting for federal legalization might put Crosby ahead of some of his compatriots in the celebrity-weed business. Some, like Seth Rogan’s Houseplant and Mike Tyson’s Tyson 2.0, seem to be doing well, but many others have learned that celebrity isn’t a guarantee of success in a business so fraught with challenges and, in particular, low profit margins. Continued federal illegality has put a chokehold on the industry, and even the best companies are struggling.
Beyond that, Crosby’s biggest challenge might be himself. For starters, the industry’s most dependable and desirable demographic is young people in their 20s and 30s. Lots of Boomers use cannabis, but there’s a reason why dispensaries blast rap music rather than “Eight Miles High” or “Almost Cut My Hair,” songs by Crosby’s former bands, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Soon, said Jason Sturtsman, a Las Vegas-based pot consultant, “The Baby Boomers are all gonna be dead.” And in the meantime, he said, most pot brands don’t care much about them, at least in terms of marketing. That’s highly arguable, but there is a seed of truth to it, and the demographic realities can’t be denied. “I don’t think many people in their 20s know who Crosby [who is 80] even is,” Sturtsman said. Celebrity branding, he added, is far from a guarantee of success. Many people will buy a celeb-branded weed product once out of curiosity, then go back to looking for “hPigh THC and low price.”
But the biggest challenge for Mighty Croz might be the fact that Crosby is well known for being kind of a dick. His former bandmates have stopped talking to him. He constantly pisses people off in public and private. Soon after Eddie Van Halen died in 2020, a fan asked Crosby on Twitter what he thought of the guitarist. His response: “meh” (he later apologized). In May, President Biden said something about labor unions, and Crosby (generally reliably liberal) counterfactually tweeted that “most unions are useless and totally dishonest.” Last month, a fan sent him a portrait he had created of the singer. “Don’t quit your day job,” Crosby responded. Far out, man.
This kind of nastiness doesn’t make for good branding, unless you’re a pro wrestler or running for office as a Republican. Sponder didn’t even really try to offer a defense. Some of the things Crosby says are “awful,” he said. But Crosby actually meant that last insult in a “friendly” way, he insisted. “He’s told me to keep my day job a hundred times.”
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I’ve followed Crosby since the Byrds. Whenever I mention his guitar playing, my friends say he’s mediocre, to which I ask: “Can you show me how to play Guinivere?”