Retired NBA legend, cannabis advocate and entrepreneur, Al Harrington announced in February the launch of Viola Cares, an initiative targeted at social justice and reentry, as well as the first “strategic partnership” with Root & Rebound, a non-profit organization seeking to restore control and resources to the families and neighbourhoods most impacted by mass incarceration and associated policies, such as the “war on drugs.”
“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 colour into the industry in a major way because of all these years on war on drugs, has pretty much destroyed these communities by incarcerating us…”-Al Harrington
Black & Brown owned companies as well as Legacy operators have a long history of being shut down. This process will provide job development through Harrington’s companies and partners, as well as investment and mentorship in a fast-growing sector for new enterprises as well as usher in a new movement.
“Viola Cares focuses on education, equitable offerings, expungement and incubation programs [resulting] in more than 10,000 jobs, hundreds of new business owners and expanded industry diversity by increasing representation, facilitating community building and providing employment opportunities”-Viola Brands
Today athletes from all sports are using Cannabis to help with recovery, relief, anxiety, sleep, inflammation and more. Al Harrington and elite athletes are using their platform to share their experiences, fighting for normalization as well as an even playing field. Cannabis has been around for decades, however the industry is still new. This new landscape provides an opportunity for government officials, legislators, companies, investors and entrepreneurs to step forward to an inclusive and transparent industry.
Al Harrington : Al Harrington is a retired NBA legend, selected 25th overall in the ’98 draft, playing 16 seasons for the Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Haws, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. Since retiring Al Harrington has become an entrepreneur in the Cannabis Industry, bringing to life a host of brands, companies and initiatives. The most notable endeavour, Viola Brands – a company named after his grandmother who suffered from glaucoma as well as diabetes. She eventually found significant relief after implementing cannabis into her life. In 2018 Al announced the launch of Harrington Wellness, a company that manufactures non-psychoactive cannabinoid products and has invested in a third company; Butler Baby which creates Cannabis Edibles. The three companies are pillars under the Harrington Group Umbrella.
Viola Brands : Viola Brands is a cannabis company founded by Al Harrington with an emphasis on offering premium products, as well as a focus on education, social equity and community involvement. Viola Brands is working to increase minority ownership with an aim to empower and create and coalition of minority investors who can operate Viola. They’re pushing to reinvest into the community by focusing on producing initiatives, events, partnerships and food drives. They’ve created opportunities within the industry, and have committed over $500,000.00 to partner with, fund and guide six applicants through phase 1 as well as 20 applicants through Phase 2 of their Social Equity Program in Los Angeles. With an emphasis on premium products, and clean solutions, consumers can find them in California, Oregon, Michigan and Colorado.