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Former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa joins board of local cannabis firm MedMen

Antonio Villaraigosa, center, lost his bid for the California Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Gavin Newsom in June. Now, the former Los Angeles mayor is joining the board of Culver City cannabis company MedMen. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is joining the board of publicly traded cannabis company MedMen, marking his return to the business world following a resounding defeat in June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

MedMen, a Culver City company that operates high-end cannabis shops in California, Nevada and New York and has aggressive expansion plans, announced Villaraigosa’s appointment Wednesday morning. Villaraigosa adds political and governmental experience to a board made up of branding, entertainment and accounting executives.

Other recent additions to the company’s board include Stacey Hallerman, a former executive at the conglomerate that owns luxury brands Montblanc and Cartier, and Jay Brown, the chief executive of RocNation, the entertainment company co-founded by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

In a statement announcing the appointment, MedMen Chief Executive Adam Bierman called Villaraigosa an experienced, connected leader who will help the cannabis firm continue to expand.

“Few people understand Los Angeles and our home state better than Mayor Villaraigosa,” Bierman said. “He will be instrumental in guiding MedMen’s expansion in the Golden State, and through his broad network, Mr. Villaraigosa will help MedMen solidify its presence across the country.”

The former mayor told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Wednesday that he hopes to use his political connections and his new role with MedMen to advocate for effective social-equity programs, which, like other cannabis policies, have yet to be fully implemented.

Such programs adopted by Los Angeles and other cities offer preferential permitting and other assistance to entrepreneurs previously charged with marijuana-related crimes or from neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.

“I have a relationship with those communities that’s as strong as anyone’s,” Villaraigosa said. “I understand the goal [of social equity]; I’ve supported it from the beginning. But we’ve got to make it work. Right now, a lot of what we have is doodles on paper.”

MedMen has been expanding its board since going public earlier this year to help fund its expansion amid stiff competition. Its stock is traded on Toronto’s Canadian Securities Exchange, which has become a haven for cannabis firms seeking public status.

Earlier this month, Constellation Brands Inc., an alcoholic-beverage company whose holdings include Corona beer, Robert Mondavi wine and hard liquor brands, announced it will spend about $3.8 billion to boost its stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian grower betting on full legalization of pot sales in the United States and other international markets.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By James Rufus Koren on LA Times

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Published: August 29, 2018


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