Growing number of celebrities cashing in on pot business


The number of companies looking to cash in on marijuana is growing, including some with celebrity backers, like Melissa Etheridge, reports CBS News correspondent Gigi Stone Woods.

Etheridge never really fit the rock star image.

"I saw alcohol, I saw what it did. I was too excited about music to let that ruin it. So, all of the drugs days in the '80s and '90s, I really let that go by without ever getting involved in it," she said.

But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she said marijuana saved her life.

"It helped with the psychological effects of being on chemo and trying to understand what's happening to you," she said.

She became an unlikely spokesperson for marijuana legalization, and now she's an even more unlikely entrepreneur. Etheridge helped create a marijuana-infused wine.

Mixing alcohol and pot can increase the negative effects of each drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, sometimes even leading to death. But Etheridge said the cannabis in her wine is not dangerous in moderation: because it is cold pressed, never heated, it doesn't have a psychoactive effect.

"It doesn't make you high as you and I would know it, like, 'Whoa!'" she said. "If you're looking to get high I would say, 'No this this cannabis wine is not for you.'"

A factory tour with a Colorado cannabis CEO 01:22

Etheridge didn't need to be a cannabis connoisseur to cash in on the plant, but it's certainly helped other celebrities get into the business.

Rapper Snoop Dogg has invested millions of dollars into pot start-ups and Bob Marley's family has their own brand of bud called Marley Natural.

Other celebrities include Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong, the patriarch of "stoner comedies."

Now at 77, Chong is lending his name to all sorts of pot products, including the Smoke Swipe, which claims to remove the marijuana odor.

He said the rest of the world has caught up with him

"Well, see, everybody else changed. I was the same. I haven't changed. I haven't changed for 50 years," he said.

Etheridge said the public's perception will have to change for widespread acceptance.

"Once more people see that it's not, you know, the crazy gateway drug that's gonna lead me down the -- you know, the path -- then the social stigma will go away," Etheridge said.

Etheridge's wine is currently only available to medical marijuana patients in California, where pot is legal for medicinal purposes. But she has a vision for her business growth.

"Like any good California wine, I would love for this product to be available in restaurants. I would love to see this available to the general public, you know, wherever you buy your fine wines," Etheridge said.

According to one marijuana investment group, the legal cannabis market could be as big as $11 billion by 2019. But should the federal government decide that states can no longer allow recreational pot, it could all go up in smoke.