How Jaleel White Broke Into the Cannabis Market Using ‘Purple Urkle’

Actor Jaleel White, best known as Steve Urkel from Family Matters, partnered up with 710 Labs for a cannabis brand called ItsPurpl. And appropriately, the line focuses on variations of the strain known as Purple Urkle. How did White get into the cannabis market and how does it make him feel like Willy Wonka? Plus, what’s a Purple Urkle in the first place?

(L) Jaleel White in suspenders as Steve Urkel (R) Reginald VelJohnson in a striped shirt as Carl on 'Family Matters'
Jaleel White as Steve Urkel | Bob D’Amico/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images

How did Jaleel White end up in the cannabis business?

White said he claimed territory in the cannabis market because no one else had. According to an interview with Forbes, he turned down several ideas that felt “very exploitative of the Urkel character legacy and money-minded.”

He wanted to make sure he went about things the best way to avoid that. But the lack of presence in the market around that strain specifically surprised him.

“The thing that always stood out to me was there [was] no clear brand leader for fire purple weed,” he said. “It made no sense to me, that no company of significance had claimed this lane, so why not me?”

As he explained, “Friends and family always thought it was funny to send me bootlegged pics of myself featured on cannabis products in dispensaries across the country.”

He added, “At first it was flattering but then it became frustrating seeing and hearing about Purple Urkle in the cannabis marketplace.”

So, it’s logical that White would jump in and corner the Purple Urkle market. But some people might be wondering what Purple Urkle even is.

What’s a Purple Urkle?

Besides being a misspelled reference to Urkel, Purple Urkle is a strain of cannabis described as having sweet, grapey notes — hence the mention of purple in the name. According to White, it’s an old-school strain and it’s “actually not an easy plant to grow nor is it a big yielder.”

He told Forbes it made sense for him to jump in and set up shop on Purple Urkle due to his playing Steve Urkel, but Steve isn’t the only character getting a shout-out in the line.

“I’ve got a strain called Stefan,” White mentioned, referencing Steve Urkel’s alter ego. Family Matters fans might remember Stefan made Laura Winslow and the live studio audience go a little wild. So, those who plan to enjoy responsibly might want to keep that in mind.


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Jaleel White feels like Willy Wonka

White told Forbes he’s honed his senses to help him with the craft of creating a perfect Purple Urkle. He said, “[I] learned to use my nose in the same way a winemaker relies on his/her sense of taste.” 

And he said the process makes him feel like another famous creative genius. “I feel a little bit like Willy Wonka, the flavor came out so similar to grape candy,” he said of smoking one of his own creations.

Products from White’s ItsPurpl collection can only be purchased in California, but he hopes to change that. He said, “New York has always shown me a lot of love so hopefully it won’t take too too long to get ItsPurpl products to the Big Apple. I want every state in the union, to keep it all the way real.”