Baseball’s ‘Big Papi’ gets into the marijuana game
Now a drummer in the cannabis industry: David Ortiz.
Just four days after his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Big Papi announced he was launching his own line of cannabis products, confirming rumors that had been circulating in the industry for years. Produced and sold by Revolutionary Clinics, its first product is a line of pre-rolled blunts called Sweet Sluggers, which vaguely resemble a baseball bat. According to a press release, additional products such as vape cartridges, pomades and an edible chocolate made from fair trade Dominican chocolate are also in the works.
Unlike many other athletes who launched their own cannabis brands, Ortiz had no known connection to the plant during his playing days. In fact, according to a teammate, he was hostile to the idea of using marijuana. during his time with the Red Sox.
Speaking on the ‘Bradfo Sho’ podcast hosted by Red Sox beat writer Rod Bradford, former close Jonathon Papelbon said Big Papi refused to try cannabis, although Papelbon insisted that it would help him recover from baseball-related wear and tear.
“I tried to make (Ortiz) understand that when you can recover faster, you’ll be better the next day,” Papelbon said of his cannabis conversations with the seven-time Silver Slugger, “I tried to always explaining that to him, man. Early in his career, all he said was, ‘You’re crazy, white dude. You crazy redneck, dude!’
Founded in 2014, this company will be the first celebrity cannabis brand in Revolutionary’s portfolio. Along with a cultivation facility in Fitchburg and dispensaries in Cambridge and Somerville, the company is one of the largest wholesale suppliers of cannabis products in Massachusetts. Big Papi’s products will be available at a number of retailers, including Worcester-based dispensaries such as Diem Cannabis and Bud’s Goods and Provisions.
News of Papi’s new cannabis business sparked strong reactions from Massachusetts all the way to his hometown of Santo Domingo.
When asked for comment, some people in the cannabis space were thrilled to see the 10-time MLB All-Star and three-time World Series champion get involved.
“Big Papi represents the American Dream and serves as an inspiration and reminder that diversity makes our country stronger – inside and outside of cannabis.” said Andrew Kline, senior Cannabis Law and Policy counsel at Perkins Coie LLP, a multinational law firm.
A number of Massachusetts cannabis brands also celebrated Ortiz’s involvement in the industry on social media.
However, not everyone was thrilled with Ortiz’s choice of breakthrough clinics as his route into the industry. The controversy stems from a lawsuit the company brought against the city of Cambridge in 2019, where they tried to block a provision that would have limited recreational cannabis licenses to economic empowerment applicants. These nominees are people the state considers to have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs based on criteria established by the Cannabis Control Commission.
Facing widespread backlash and a diminishing chance of success for their challenge, Revolutionary ultimately dropped the lawsuit and pledged to help increase fairness in the cannabis industry, saying in a statement that they would “focus more of our time, attention and financial resources on helping to create equity programs in the communities we serve. »
Still, Revolutionary’s behavior has left some wishing Papi had chosen a different team to launch his line of cannabis products.
“I am troubled that Big Papi has partnered with a company that told a judge that Cambridge’s equity priority period for local adult-use cannabis licenses was ‘racially discriminatory’ against businesses owned to white people,” said Grant Smith Ellis, a cannabis activist. and watchdog freelance journalist who has frequently covered the controversies surrounding Revolutionary in the past. “It is hoped that in light of this story, Ortiz and his team will reconsider their partnership. With so many local operators in the state, who have no history of anti-equity behavior, I am certain that there is someone worthy of his power and support.
In addition to the controversy surrounding fairness, Revolutionary Clinics has also previously faced disciplinary action from local regulators. In June 2020, the company was fined $120,000, following a state investigation that determined the company was selling vape cartridges that exceeded permitted levels of ethanol. Regulators determined that the cleaning solution used to sanitize the extraction equipment was the culprit for the contamination.
Some voices in the Dominican Republic have also opposed Ortiz’s entry into the cannabis industry, although for completely different reasons than local cannabis activists.
Although Big Papi is one of the country’s biggest icons, some commentators in his native land weren’t thrilled with his new adventure with weed. Many of them claimed that marijuana use is a gateway to harder drugs, or said that Ortiz’s involvement with cannabis would send the wrong message to young baseball players.
Alfredo Villasmil – a writer for RECORD, a Dominican sports news site – listed a list of supposed negative effects of cannabis use before telling readers: “I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot to me. side effects to smoking a joint just because Big Grandpa, who is not a doctor, said he was doing fine.
Writing in Listin Diario, the oldest published Dominican newspaper, sports journalist Hector J. Cruz suggested (perhaps a little sarcastically) that the launch of Big Papi’s cannabis brand could represent a sign that the world is dying. is close, while Julio Martinez of Diario Digitial Pozo dismissed the idea that the legality of Ortiz’s involvement in the cannabis industry made it morally acceptable.
“[Marijuana] is legal in twenty states of the United States? Big deal!” he wrote. “In this country it is also legal to buy highly lethal firearms.”
Cannabis use is still highly stigmatized in the Dominican Republic, where possession of a few grams of the drug can lead to up to two years in prison.
According to estimates produced by cannabis data firm New Frontier Data, the country of more than 10.8 million people has only around 32,000 cannabis users. It’s possible that Ortiz’s involvement will help de-stigmatize cannabis use to some degree, but it’s clear from the backlash that it won’t happen overnight.
Jackson Mejia, a native of the Dominican Republic who now resides in Worcester and is co-CEO of Delivered, a Massachusetts-based cannabis delivery company, wasn’t too surprised by the Dominican backlash.
“Attitudes are – for lack of a better word – backward on this issue there,” he said.
As one of the only Dominican-born executives in Massachusetts’ cannabis industry, Meija said he hoped to get in touch with Ortiz to see if he was interested in getting involved with his business as well.
Marijuana prohibitionists in Ortiz’s homeland needn’t worry too much just yet; Papi Cannabis products will only be available in Massachusetts for the foreseeable future. And while Revolutionary has been open about its desire to expand into other state markets, I don’t see Ortiz’s brand having much resonance outside of New England.
In places like New York or Maryland, Yankees and Orioles fans may be more likely to want to burn the packaging than the product inside.