The Game recently unveiled his new pot strain "Trees" at The Reserve in Santa Ana. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

How The Game went from hip-hop hero to pot pioneer

Marijuana became part of The Game’s life when he was 12. And this year, after releasing a Hot 100 single and a new full-length record, the 36-year-old rapper from Southern California said that marijuana, not music, is his main revenue source.

How? The Game co-owns Santa Ana medical marijuana dispensary The Reserve and has a line of cannabis products through G FarmaBrands.

As California’s cannabis industry moves into the mainstream under Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use in California, The Game – whose birth name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor – sees dollar signs. He hopes to become one of industry’s pioneers not only with The Reserve, but also through his new company, Trees By Game, which is part investment fund and part cannabis lifestyle brand.

The Game has already sold millions of records. His 2005 album “The Documentary” is a 21st century benchmark for West Coast rap and his musical résumé includes being a member of supergroup G-Unit and multiple Grammy nominations.

Pot, he said, has been with him every step of the way.

“I’ve been getting high since I was 12 years old, so weed has influenced everything that I do,” The Game said in a recent interview at The Reserve. “It’s been there for more than half of my life and I’m happy with it. Me and Mary Jane, we’re in love.”

High hopes

His relationship with marijuana is growing ever stronger. The Game and business partner Josh Shelton, of the Los Angeles-based Green Street Agency, a company that builds brands by connecting consumers and celebrities in the cannabis field, aim to make Trees the first major brand of California’s legal marijuana industry.

“Me and Josh were just thinking that we need a Nike of marijuana, especially since we knew it was going to be legal in a few months,” The Game said. “Everybody has weed, they name it, but they don’t have like weed brands, so we wanted to make a marijuana corporation.”

The Game unveiled his new pot strain "Trees" at The Reserve Santa Ana on Nov. 20. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Game recently unveiled his new pot strain “Trees” at The Reserve Santa Ana. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, The Game announced via social media that Trees By Game was looking for participants in the investment fund, which will be “investing only in the legal cannabis industry,” according to the Trees by Game website.

As far as products go, three Trees by Game strains – an indica, a sativa and a hybrid – are already available at The Reserve. The Game also hopes to roll out apparel and other products.

“It’s everything, not just cannabis products,” The Game said. “There will be other products that fall under Trees by Game, the way Air Jordan is a product under Nike.”

Race to a billion

The Game isn’t the first rapper to cash in on the cannabis industry. Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa has his own hybrid strain called “Khalifa Kush” as well as other branded products.

Long Beach rapper Snoop Dogg launched his own line, “Leafs by Snoop,” in 2015 in Colorado. The company – which isn’t technically owned by Snoop since he doesn’t live in Colorado – features several pre-packaged strains as well as wax, shatter and edibles.

Snoop Dogg and The Game are in a friendly race to become the industry’s first billionaire. The Game said he thinks he can win, based on the potential of Trees by Game. In August, The Game posted on Instagram that he invested $1 million in the cannabis industry in 2016 and had already made $3 million.

Industry experts predict California’s legal cannabis market will reach $6.5 billion by 2020.

That’s big business for recreational weed use, something The Game never would have expected to be legal when he was growing up.

But once Prop. 64 was introduced, he had faith that it would pass.

Though he thinks cannabis legislation still has a ways to go, he regards the passing of Prop. 64 as a major step forward. He said the law has its pros and cons, “like every law,” but doesn’t sweat the fine print.

“I just like that ‘legal’ and ‘marijuana’ were passed,” The Game said.