From Smuggling Weed to Branding Cannabis with Brian O’Dea

In the 1970’s and 80’s, he ran a cannabis smuggling operation that earned $100 million dollars annually and employed 120 people. His largest shipment was 75 tons of marijuana from Vietnam into the Western United States. Brian O’Dea excelled at smuggling, but ultimately paid ten years in a Federal Penitentiary for his work.

After his release, O’Dea wrote a book on his life as a smuggler and became a film and TV producer in Canada. Regardless of his new career success, it wasn’t long before his pot-smuggling past returned.

O’Dea was working on a show in Los Angeles when through his contacts, he heard about someone who owned a successful business venture. “The business was branding, and he had branded Kurupt’s Moonrock and Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest’s [product] Wu Goo,” said O’Dea in an interview with Wu Goo is a line of hash oil products that carry the famous rappers names.

Before he knew it, Brian was back in the pot industry turning a legitimate profit, but this time his company was about getting attention, rather than avoiding it. “I’m the one who creates the relationships with people in the markets. Like in Colorado, I created a relationship with someone who will soon be one of the largest growers in the state. Same thing with Washington and coming up in Massachusetts. Our plan is to develop our brand and position it globally where it’s legal.”

Other than the current roster of names, O’Dea is developing relationships with new celebs as well. “We have some very noisy things in the works.”

The irony of O’Dea being involved in the legal cannabis industry during its new dawn has not been lost on him. “I was at the forefront of the industry in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This is exactly where I should be. This is the beginning of a multi-faceted, gigantic industry that creates tremendous business. This is an industry that will be worth many billions in Canada and untold billions in the United States.”

Celebrity endorsements for cannabis products are all the rage. In addition to the previously mentioned, Snoop Dogg has Leafs By Snoop, Tommy Chong has his own strain called Chong Star and pre-rolled cones, the great Willie Nelson has Willie’s Reserve, and Wiz Khalifa has Khalifa Kush and rolling products.

Not to be outdone, two big-time female celebrity entrepreneurs are dominating as well. Melissa Etheridge has her fabulous cannabis infused wine, and of course, Whoopi Goldberg has a full line of cannabis products called Whoopi & Maya.

As legal cannabis makes its way across the first world, so too do the opportunities to build fortunes. For Brian O’Dea, the original wave included 75 tons of weed and a decade in jail. History will have to tell the rest of his amazing journey.

In for a penny, in for an ounce.

(Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett)

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