fb-pixel Skip to main content
On Second Thought

David Ortiz’s new marijuana venture smells off in many ways

David Ortiz (right) stood alongside Keith Cooper, CEO of Revolutionary Clinics, while announcing the launch of Papi Cannabis on Wednesday.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

David Ortiz’s bronzed likeness hung proudly, and deservedly, on a wall inside Cooperstown’s hallowed Plaque Gallery for less than 72 hours when word broke Wednesday that the ex-Red Sox slugger had ventured off to another rich field of dreams.

Ortiz, in one bold, entrepreneurially-opportunistic swing, traveled on a bee line from baseball’s Hall of Fame and directly into peddling marijuana.

“My personal journey,” Big Papi was quoted in his promotional material, “to help people understand its benefits.”

Papi Cannabis, a product in partnership with Rev Brands, hit the market running with an offer of Ortiz’s “Sweet Sluggers” — pre-rolled blunts selling for $18 each, or a three-pack for $49. They come in some of the big fella’s favorite strains, such as Black Mamba #7, Lava Cake #7, Motorbreath #15, and good ol’ Bootylicious #4.


It’s just a start. There are plans for much more to come. Drugs, legal and otherwise, can be that way, run to unexpected places.

As a product of the ‘60s, I was kinda hoping there’d be a blend of Woodstock #9 . . . #9 . . . #9. Maybe that will hit the shelves later, sort of an homage to Yasgur’s Farm and Ted Williams, all in one smooth, delicious blunt. Pre-rolled, of course.

Maybe there’ll be a Big Papi line of munchies, too? Sea Salt Swingin’ chips #34. Bet ya can’t eat just one family-sized bag at 3 a.m.

How disappointing. A man of humongous fame, fortune, and influence, Ortiz went for the quick, easy grab of drugs, and right on the heels of his Cooperstown coronation. Had the bronze on the plaque even cooled yet?

Products like "Sweet Sluggers" headline David Ortiz's new cannabis line.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

All from a guy, remember, who was dropped at death’s door three years ago when a notorious Dominican drug trafficker had him popped while Papi sipped a drink at a DR bar. Why go there? Why even dabble in the weed patch?


There is nothing illegal, immoral, or sordid, of course, in owning a piece of today’s regulated marijuana biz. It’s all good. Here in Massachusetts, be it for medicinal or recreational purposes, it’s now just another feel-good commodity, looked upon by many much like liquor.

Cannabis and booze both have a boatload of issues, some quite costly, but as a (mostly) civil society, we accept both today as (mostly) benign consumer goods.

Ortiz has every right to make a buck from it. Just as he has the right to bop around, as he did recently downtown here, with a ballcap that reads, “HOESMAD” — a pernicious tip of the cap to misogyny. Again, why would a guy with such a good name go there? Hall of Famer/HOESMAD. Really? We’ve grown to like that Ortiz operates without a filter. He desperately could use someone at his side with some common sense and nerve to tell him no.

When cannabis or booze aren’t used properly, or responsibly, all of that “mostly” stuff goes out the window. There can be hell to pay, be it in lives ruined by or lost to addiction, or the various forms of carnage around getting hooked.

Right or wrong, some of us still today stigmatize marijuana. We can argue deep into extra innings and the next millennium if that is right, wrong, or justified, but it undeniably remains part of American culture. It will last a long time. Even the great Ortiz, 46, will not outlive that lingering truth.


Of greater concern, in the moment, is that Ortiz’s endorsement and bountiful star power, boosted even more by Hall of Fame creds, has lifted marijuana’s profile, reconfirmed yet again that it’s both good and cool, now even Bootylicious sexy, baby.

While there’s abundant opinion and studies out here that cannabis, used in a variety of forms, can provide numerous health benefits, there is at least equal opinion and data that it can be a portal to addiction.

Ortiz, as a businessman should, is focusing on the good, and employing a Conig’s Corner-like black tarpaulin over the latter.

David Ortiz seems to be parlaying his recent Hall induction into a business boom.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

“Cannabis can indeed be addictive,” noted Dr. Lipi Roy, an addiction medicine physician and commentator for MSNBC and NBC News. “It’s important to note that THC is the psychoactive component, i.e. it affects parts of the brain that controls mood, pain, and other emotions, creates the ‘high.’ ”

Most addiction doctors are concerned, said Roy, that young people, particularly under age 16, are susceptible to the harmful effects of addictive drugs such as alcohol, opioids, tobacco, and cannabis. A teen’s developing brain, she said, is vulnerable to changes in mood and behavior.

Ortiz and Rev Brands are not selling Papi Cannabis to kids. That’s important. It’s the law. Nonetheless, impressionable teens and twentysomethings are watching, as are older impressionable Big Papi fans.

They’ll get in the game just because, well, Papi’s the man. He’s the cannabis man.

“The reality is that celebrities like David Ortiz, who has done so much for the Greater Boston community, have a great deal of influence,” added Roy, a former faculty member at Harvard Medical School. “They are role models, whether or not they want to be.


“My hope is that he sells his products responsibly, puts in practice clear instruction that his products are for adults, and that they can have adverse effects, including physical and psychological dependence and addiction.”

Two weeks before his induction, Ortiz partnered with Zenni on a line of eyewear, a dozen snazzy styles available online. No one goes off the rails because of cool shades, unless they really work at it.

Cannabis, though, like a number of things around Ortiz over the years, can be complicated. Big Papi went for the easy dough, quite common in the world of drugs, and quite often a place where a field of dreams turns into a motherlode of nightmares.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.