Image: John Taylor for mg Magazine
LOS ANGELES – Veteran baller and cannabis entrepreneur Al Harrington, founder and chief executive officer at cannabis producer Viola Brands, has committed to creating 100 black millionaires with the brand’s new business incubator and part of social equity program Viola Cares.
The all-American basketball forward this week told financial news platforms, including CNBC, that part of the plan is to help unlicensed product brands and businesses learn how to become legal—particularly, unlicensed businesses owned by people of color.
“A lot of brands that are on the black market that have a lot of credibility and unbelievable following, have market share, but they just don’t know how to get into the legal market,” Harrington told CNBC.com.
“The stigma is still so strong that the fact this is a growing industry that you can be a part of may still be hard to grasp. We’re trying to educate and bring people of color into the industry in a major way, because all these years of the war on drugs, [basically] aimed at communities of color, have pretty much destroyed these communities by incarcerating us,” he added, in a post on Forbes.com.
Viola’s social equity initiatives started rolling out in early 2020, and have gained media coverage as protests against police brutality and racism have swept the globe—a world still reeling from the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis companies across the board have dedicated services and donations to a myriad of nonprofits in the wake of back-to-back worldwide crises.
In this time of great turbulence many like Harrington hope there will be positive change for marginalized populations. Included in those groups are those affected by the war on drugs, which has disproportionately affected people of color.
Viola Brands in late February announced Viola Cares. Founded in partnership with legal advocacy organization Root & Rebound, Viola Cares first outreach project “will produce a first-of-its-kind toolkit designed specifically for people with cannabis-related convictions, to be entitled: ‘A New Leaf: A How-To Guide for Successful Reentry After A Cannabis Conviction.’“
Published: June 16, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News