Rita Marley’s commercialization of her husband’s name and its affect on his legacy

Earlier last week, Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s wife, announced that the Reggae legend’s name will be associated with a range of cannabis products. Rita, the guardian of Marley’s legacy, has taken the worst action regarding Marley’s credibility and name; instead of being remembered for the musical genius he was, he will now be remembered as a leading spliffhead.

It is true that Marley had an affiliation with cannabis, but so did Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney. The only difference is that in Marley’s case the affiliation with cannabis had taken over his musical legacy over the decades.

After Marley’s death in May of 1981, many people close to him saw this loss of legacy coming. At the time, he had left $43.8 million, $34.4 million of which were spirited away in no time by all of those who claimed to be associated with Marley (wives, lovers, and legitimate and illegitimate children). The loss of this money was brought by many accountants, lawyers and the court. As a result, Rita Marley claimed all of what was left to herself in addition to the legacy and trademark of Bob Marley. 

One of the first and most important steps taken by Rita Marley was to preserve the rights of any photos of Bob Marley. She contacted all photographers who might have taken pictures of her husband and managed to get all available photographs marked with her publisher’s trademark on them. Later on, she sold some of these photographs, those which are now the most famous and most recognizable by the audience, to American companies that used them for marketing.

In spite of taking clever business moves that also added to Bob Marley’s legacy, Rita’s latest decision was wrong. The current and ongoing discussion over cannabis had resulted in a certain stigma and prejudice of the public over those who consume it. Parents don’t want their children to be affiliated with cannabis. The Marley Cannabis will strengthen Bob Marley’s affiliation with cannabis on the account of his revolutionary and visionary music. This will result in parents opposing their children listening to Marley’s music. This will be a major loss in our global musical legacy.

There is also a greater consequence to Marley’s commercialized association with cannabis. Being black and passing through customs is difficult as it is, but it is even more difficult when the traveler is dreaded. And with this new affiliation with cannabis, the mere action of wearing a shirt with Marley’s face on it will be enough for an invasion of personal space, privacy and limitation of travel. This association will result in greater prejudice and it’ll be harder to escape the stereotype.

Rita Marley had officially decided to market cannabis tied directly to Bob Marley and his legacy, soon to be called “Marley Cannabis”.