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Why Mike Tyson Once Said Cannabis Is "Not Who I Am"

By David Jenison on January 26, 2018

In late December, former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson broke ground on a 40-acre ranch in the Mojave Desert that he intends to turn into a cannabis resort. The boxing great plans to dedicate 20 acres that master growers can use to develop new strains, and the deluxe campground will also feature an amphitheater and edibles lab, if all goes as planned. 

Tyson's been described as a long-time cannabis advocate, but this writer saw a different side of the Hall of Fame boxer during a joint press interview for his Undisputed Truth tour in 2013. I asked if he had any thoughts about the Mike Tyson cannabis strain, and his response included a tone that recalled a disappointed dad. 

"Wow, that is interesting," Tyson told me. "There has always been a strain called Mike Tyson, even when I was fighting in Baltimore. I used to always look at things from different perspectives. That is not who I am, that is not what I am representing. Even if I was participating in it, I would not do it just because that is not who I am."

Does this suggest that Tyson is merely capitalizing on the so-called Green Rush? Not exactly. 

In 2010, Tyson told Billboard, "[Rapper Tupac Shakur] always wanted me to smoke weed with him, and I never did it, and I wish I did." Per the publication, Tyson was a closet cannabis smoker at the time, and he didn't want people to know, but he said not smoking with Tupac was "my biggest regret" involving his friend. 

Tyson's foray into the cannabis industry is yet another example that the anti-cannabis propaganda and stigma is losing its influence on society. He's apparently a major advocate for cannabidiol (CBD), and sweeping cultural change taking place in California and around the world allows him more freedom to go public about his cannabis use and support. He now feels free to speak up for and get involved in a cannabis movement that he's long enjoyed in secret. 

Interestingly, the Mojave Desert—and California City in particular—is becoming the new go-to-spot for cannabis enterprises in Southern California. In addition to Tyson's ranch, former NBA star Brad Miller broke ground on his own cannabis manufacturing facility in the desert this month. Miller, an all-star who spent his best basketball years with the Sacramento Kings, plans to develop a wide range of retail items under the company name Mountain Chief Products. Likewise, American Green purchased an entire town, Nipton, which it plans to turn into a cannabis-themed tourist destination and production hub. Planned products include CBD-infused water. 

Cannabis entrepreneurs are fighting to build an industry in the California desert, and there's no better fighter to have on your side than Iron Mike Tyson. 

Photo credit: Flickr/Devin Harley.

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