Al Harrington, NBA veteran and cannabis entrepreneur, has embarked on a new mission with his company Viola Brands to develop 100 Black millionaires in the cannabis industry.
Harrington, who has long advocated for diversity in the cannabis industry and made it a guiding principle of the company he founded, Viola Brands, said one of the ways he’ll achieve this new mission is through a Viola sponsored incubator program that allows black market cannabis products to become legitimate, as reported to CNBC.
A lot of brands that are on the black market that has a lot of credibility and unbelievable following, have market share, but they just don’t know how to get into the legal market.- Al Harrington, CEO of Viola Brands
Many entrepreneurs in the cannabis field, Harrington added, find it “nearly impossible to get a license” to grow and monetize products in states where marijuana is legal although these products could have “million dollar valuations” if promoted correctly.
Harrington also said he would donate 20,000 CBD topical creams to protestors suffering from chronic pain at the request of former NBA player Stephen Jackson. Jackson has emerged as a key figure during the protests seeking justice for the killing of his friend George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer
Al Harrington and Racial Disparities in the Cannabis Industry
Racial disparities in the era of cannabis legalization - from the disproportionate arrests of African Americans for marijuana possession to the exclusion of Black entrepreneurs from license approvals and access to capital - are part of the current litany of conversations about America's culture of systemic racism and social injustice.
Founded in 2011, Viola is one of the nation's leading producers and licensed wholesalers of premium quality cannabis products. As CEO, Harrington has been a vocal advocate of increasing minority ownership and investment in cannabis-related companies, even creating a coalition of minority investors, including Stephen Jackson.
That is something I will continue to harp on; continue to bring awareness to because once again, I feel like the war on drugs was aimed towards our community, and they used cannabis as pretty much the main drug to continue to lock us up. All this money being made now, we’re not represented; we’re not there. I feel like we pioneered this industry.”- Al Harrington, CEO of Viola Brands
Viola closed a $16 million Series A funding round last October.
“What I’m hoping is that we use this time to educate ourselves and realize that we have a lot of power amongst ourselves if we just pay attention and support one another,” Harrington said.
Harrington is not alone is his support of greater diversity in the cannabis industry as Method Man, the award winning rapper, actor, and entrepreneur known for his work with Wu-Tang Clan, launched TICAL last week, a new cannabis venture looking to support Black owned businesses. CJ Wallace, son of legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. launched Think BIG to tackle social justice and equality in the cannabis industry.
Are you still missing out on The Bluntness newsletter? Sign Up today to stay in the loop.