NBA legend Allen Iverson has entered the cannabis market through a partnership with Viola Brands. According to The Michigan Chronicle, as of March 25, the former basketball star has his own strain exclusive to the Great Lakes State, where cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Viola Brands — which was founded by another ex-NBA player, Cape Town Tigers assistant coach Al Harrington — has a social justice initiative that reinvests in the communities where it operates. They tout that their mission is to increase equity within the cannabis space and to positively impact communities that were most affected by the war on drugs. Their website states the company “integrates the latest cutting-edge technology and proprietary processes from seed to sell offering premium products in each of our markets.”
The IVERSON ‘01 strain, which was reportedly cultivated in Detroit, is available across the state of Michigan and sold in pre-rolled form and as pre-packaged flower.
“I’m excited to continue the partnership with my brother Al and bring our newest strain to Detroit,” Iverson said in a press release. “Everything I do is for the fans, and this is no different.”
The NBA legend visited the city of Detroit to introduce the product with stops at several local dispensaries.
“We’ll let the customers decide when we’re going to pull it. One thing we just realize in the industry, people love new stuff, they love new genetics. We definitely want to be on the cutting edge of that. We’re constantly pheno-hunting and growing our own stuff trying to find the next best thing,” said Harrington, The Chronicle reported.
“When I think about Allen, the icon that he is, how disruptive he was, how he changed the way the game was played, the way the game is perceived, the way athletes conducted themselves in a positive way; meaning being themselves,” says Harrington. “Realizing you can be yourself and people will love you for it. When I think about cannabis, it’s the same thing. It’s groundbreaking. It’s disruptive. We’re constantly changing how people perceive cannabis, how they use cannabis; it aligned perfectly.”
Harrington notes that the Black community has been disproportionately charged with marijuana-related crimes, but has less than 2 percent representation in the now-booming cannabis industry. Harrington and Iverson are not the only athletes entering the market. Former Detroit Piston Ben Wallace also returned to Detroit last weekend to promote his new line, Undrafted. Former Detroit Lions player Calvin Johnson also owns a cannabis business in the city called Primitiv.
“As a former pro athlete, I’ve got aches and pains and different stresses than before. Cannabis has helped with all that, safely,” Wallace told ClickOnDetroit last fall, when he entered into an agreement with Michigan-based cannabis company, Rair.
“After working with the Rair team for the last couple of months, I know this will be a great partnership. They’re serious about growing quality products and ending the stigma around cannabis use, and we’re going to bring you a brand that shows the grit and toughness my teams and I always brought to the court in Detroit,” Wallace added.
“We don’t own any farms, we don’t own any trucks or any of those things, but we’re the ones going to jail for it from the distribution side.” Wallace noted. “I wanted our people to participate. I’m on a mission to change that with cannabis and hopefully, I can bring as many talented people to the industry as possible and we can win at an ownership level so we can be able to dictate how we give back to our community.”
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