Willie Nelson's Cannabis Line Strikes a High Note in Michigan Market

November 8th, 2023 Products & Reviews Ryan Spegal
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Michigan's cannabis landscape has witnessed a remarkable surge with the entry of country music icon Willie Nelson's brand, Willie’s Reserve. Since its introduction to the market on October 25th, the demand for Willie's strains has been soaring, with stocks nearly depleted in all 15 dispensaries across the state. Renowned for its robust potency, with THC levels ranging from 24 to 30 percent, Willie's Reserve is edging above the potency benchmark of average cannabis offerings, resonating with enthusiasts seeking a higher-grade experience.

The journey of Willie’s Reserve to Michigan's burgeoning market is a tale of persistence and passion, spearheaded by Lansing-based Aardvark Industrees. The company's Chief Marketing Officer, Hilary Dulany, reminisces about the origins of this collaboration which began eight years back. The initial rendezvous with the Willie’s Reserve team in 2015 laid the groundwork for what would become a fruitful alliance. However, it wasn't until Aardvark Industrees embarked on a venture with actor and cannabis icon Cheech Marin in 2022 that the opportunity to partner with Willie Nelson's brand re-emerged.

Dulany, a seasoned player in the cannabis industry with 15 years of experience, considers the project with Willie Nelson a personal milestone. "It’s an amazing thing to be able to see your dream come to fruition,” she shared. With a rich history in the sector, including founding her vaporizer brand, AccuVape, Dulany co-founded Aardvark Industrees. Initially set up in Bend, Oregon, the business relocated to Lansing following Michigan's green light for recreational marijuana in 2018, a move that capitalized on the state's already flourishing cannabis culture.

Lansing, Michigan, currently acclaimed as the second-largest cannabis market in the United States, is more than just a market hotspot; it is the fulcrum of legislative decisions impacting the industry. “Lansing is the hub where everything gets decided. All the governing takes place here, and that plays into our industry,” Dulany explained.

Aardvark Industrees has cultivated partnerships with small growers throughout Michigan, aiming to bolster Lansing's cannabis farming industry to keep pace with the soaring demand. Roberta King, Aardvark's communications specialist, underscores the company's commitment to expanding local cannabis agriculture. This approach not only ensures a steady supply of Willie’s specific strains but also supports the local economy and farming communities.

The debut of Willie’s Reserve was a commercial hit, with one retailer reporting a sell-out within the first 24 hours of the launch. The reception underscores a well-established appetite for high-quality, celebrity-endorsed cannabis products within the Michigan market. In anticipation of continued demand, Aardvark Industrees has announced the next batch of Willie’s products to coincide with November 22nd, aptly known as Green Wednesday, which is expected to attract significant consumer attention.

The success of Willie’s Reserve in Michigan reflects a growing trend where celebrity-backed cannabis lines are not merely resting on star power but are delivering quality products that meet and exceed consumer expectations. As the Michigan market evolves, collaborations such as the one between Aardvark Industrees and Willie’s Reserve are setting a precedent for future enterprises, blending celebrity influence with industry expertise to catalyze market expansion and consumer engagement in the world of cannabis.

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