Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura Starts Cannabis Brand

Former Minnesota Governor and ex-professional wrestler Jesse Ventura is the latest celebrity to start a cannabis brand. Ventura served as Governor of the Land of 10,000 Lakes from 1999 to 2003. One could say that no other Governor serving during the late ’90’s or early 2000’s had quite the extensive background in variously different forms of popular entertainment as Ventura, with the exception of a certain former bodybuilder from Austria and “Governor-nator” from California. Fun fact, both of those former Governors starred in the 1987 action blockbuster Predator.

Celebrities and cannabis ventures

Celebrities have been putting their hats into the further mainstream cannabis industry in droves by starting cannabis ventures, to greatly varying degrees of success. Some award-receiving cannabis brands such as Willie’s Reserve (by country music legend Willie Nelson) have become mainstays at dispensaries across the states. Legendary hip-hop artists and cannabis connoisseurs Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have each had multiple forays into the billion-dollar industry of their favorite plant. Athletes like Mike Tyson, who created the wildly popular Tyson 2.0 cannabis brand, have also found success in the space.

Jesse Ventura: a diverse background

Long before Ventura became politically involved, he served in the United States Navy Underwater Demolition Team during the Vietnam War. After leaving the military, Ventura became a full-patched member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in the early 1970’s. After leaving the bike club and attending North Hennepin Community College near his hometown of Minneapolis, Ventura served as a bodyguard for some of music’s greatest bands of the era, including The Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead.

Starting in 1975, Ventura began a career in professional wrestling that would see him win numerous championships across multiple promotions. He wrestled in memorable matches with some of professional wrestling’s greatest legends, from Cowboy Bob Orton to Macho Man Randy Savage and arguably the most famous wrestler of all time, none other than Hulk Hogan. After he retired from fighting in the squared circle, Ventura served as an animated, sometimes controversial commentator for both the WCW and the WWF, the two biggest wrestling promotions at the time.

Ventura’s political career and advocacy

While he was still serving as a wrestling color commentator, Ventura decided to begin his foray into politics that would eventually span over a decade and lead him to the highest seat in Minnesota politics. For his very first election, Ventura ran as an independent candidate in the 1991 mayoral election of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, where he not only won but beat the 18-year incumbent candidate. Running on a platform of “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”, Ventura might be considered either centrist or possibly even libertarian by today’s standards. He was vehemently against overspending and unnecessary taxes, but he supported drug sentencing reform and admitted on numerous occasions that the Drug War was a failure. He was a proponent for education reform and Second Amendment rights, while also supporting cannabis legalization and gay rights including marriage (this was at a time when both the majority of Republicans and even Democrats disapproved of same-sex marriage).

In the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election, Ventura made political history as one of the first third-party candidates to win such an important election, beating out career lawyers and politicians. During his tenure, Ventura operated on a platform that criticized the decisions of both parties, such as a lack of quality mass transit systems and condemning the previously held embargo on all Cuban products in 2002.

Cannabis advocacy and legalization

His most recent newsworthy event came in February of 2023 where he attended a Senate Environment, Climate and Legacy Committee meeting and passionately recounted the story of how cannabis saved his wife’s life from a debilitating seizure condition after four anti-seizure medications failed to do so. Despite cannabis being illegal in Minnesota at the time, the former governor knowingly broke the law to provide cannabis to his wife.

“Cannabis saved my life. Let that sink in. Not me personally, but the 38th first lady of Minnesota. And if I get choked up a little, bear with me. My wife took the first three drops under the tongue and has not had a seizure since. None. Marijuana cannabis stopped the seizures.” he told a Minnesota Senate committee.

Ventura’s entry into the cannabis industry

Ventura’s testimony was clearly moving, as the former governor stood next to current Minnesota Governor Tim Walz when Walz signed House Bill 100 in May 2023, which legalized recreational cannabis for the state. Since then, Ventura has decided to enter into the newly legal Minnesota cannabis industry with the Jesse Ventura Farms brand in partnership with local cannabis company Retro Bakery.

“I can’t tell you how truly amazing this feels,” Ventura said in a blog post. “To finally be able to legally share with you, products from a plant that has had such an amazing impact on my life. Not to mention the historical significance of being the first U.S. Governor to officially put his name on a cannabis brand. Each step brings us closer to finally ending this tragic and dangerous war on drugs. Cannabis saved my family’s life.”

Although he’s sticking to only federally legal hemp-derived products for now, Ventura still fully supports cannabis reform to all extents. The products come in multiple forms too, from Maui Wowie Gummies to chocolates. And with a launch party scheduled for 4/20 at a local Minneapolis dispensary, the former Governor is showing his continued support for the newly legalized industry that’s on track to reach over $1 billion in annual sales in just a couple years.

Even as the Minnesota cannabis industry expands into a several hundred million-dollar industry, Ventura will undoubtedly use his platform and public advocacy for the plant that saved his family’s lives for the betterment of the health of Minnesotans. Ventura’s entry into the market signifies a significant moment in the state’s history and reflects a broader shift in societal perceptions of cannabis.