For decades, cannabis has played a pivotal role for athletes across every sport with recovery, relief, sleep, inflammation and more. Shrouded in secrecy, plagued by stigma, cannabis has never had an opportunity to shine. In 2018, Canada disrupted outdated mindsets, introducing the legalization of recreational cannabis. In the past four years, we have witnessed a ripple that’s still expanding across the globe today.
At the forefront are athletes, medical professionals and advocates using their platforms to share their journeys, normalize the cannabis conversation and break the stigma. Shifting their stance, the National Basketball Association made headlines around the world passing on cannabis testing for a second straight season in 2022 & officially suspended all random tests for cannabis.
With the NBA Finals underway, we’re taking a moment to spotlight retired and active NBA athletes that are smoking the competition in the cannabis industry.
In late 2021, retired NBA Champion, D Wade splashed into the cannabis industry with a three-peat. Global icon Dwyane Wade is a three time NBA champion and has continued his run of success off the court, partnering with Jeeter on a unique line of strains. Hitting nothing but net, Wade made a splash with three cannabis strains, releasing the line in a book format as an homage to his memoirs.
During an IGLive Event, D Wade chatted about his partnership with Jeeter and his line “Game Over”;
“I’ve got a poem called Game Over. Everyone gets a chance to check that out. That’s one of the names of the flowers. The next one that I really, really love, this is one of my favorite flavors, Fruit Punch. So I want this to taste fruity, but also to give you what you need.”-Dwayne Wade/IG Live
Dwyane Wade joins a handful of athletes investing, partnering and advocating for cannabis.
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 Hawks, 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 endeavor, 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 February 2021 Al Harrington announced the launch of Viola Cares, an initiative targeted at social justice and reentry, as well as the first “strategic partnership” with Root and Rebound.
Root & Rebound is a non-profit organization seeking to restore control and resources to the families and neighborhoods 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 color into the industry in a major way because of d these years on war on drugs, which has pretty much destroyed these communities by incarcerating us…”-Al Harrington
Considered by many to be one of the Greatest Point Guards of All Time, retired NBA Legend Allen Iverson, is the latest athlete to join the cannabis industry, sharing the news on his instagram;
“Happy to be joining my brother Al Harrington and the whole Viola Family. Ready to Change the Game!!”-Allen Iverson, Viola
Allen Iverson a.k.a. “The Answer” played 14 seasons in the NBA with career highlights that include, 11-time NBA All-Star appearances, 2x All-Star Game MVP’s in ’01 & ’05, recipient of the NBA’s MVP award in 2001 and in 2016 was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Known for disrupting and changing NBA culture, it’s fitting that Allen Iverson joins the Cannabis Industry in an effort to break the stigma, change perception and normalize the cannabis conversation.
Iverson’s interest was ultimately pushed when he joined Al Harrington at Viola’s 18,000 sq/ft grow earlier this year to get a better understanding of the process, product and people behind the brand. In recent years Viola has created premium products as well as timely initiatives targeted at social justice and equitable offerings, pushing to expand industry diversity, facilitate community building and provide employment opportunities. With a commitment to increasing minority participation, ownership and education, Allen Iverson has decided to team up with Viola Brand in a multi year Partnership.
“I’ve had a lot of people approach me with business opportunities, but this one with Al was different. After seeing how devoted he is to this business, and him educating me on how beneficial the plant is, it just felt right. I’m excited to be a part of it. Together, we’re about to change the game.”-Allen Iverson, Viola
Carmelo Anthony is an active player with the Los Angeles Lakers, and is a 10x NBA All-Star, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 4x All-NBA Third Team, recipient of the NBA Social Justice Champion Award, NBA Scoring Champion Award in 2013, NBA All-Rookie First Team, named to the 75th Anniversary Team.
Carmelo and John Wall joined athletes around the world betting on cannabis, backing cannabis company LEUNE. In early April 2021 they connected to invest in California-based LEUNE. Since the launch in 2018, LEUNE has focused on social justice initiatives, partnering with the Last Prisoner Project to tackle criminal justice reform and social equity issues.
In late June of 2021, Gage Growth announced a partnership to bring COOKIES into Canada. The COOKIES product line will be available in Ontario through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), before expanding to other provinces.
COOKIES began with two visionary founders, growth expert Jai and cannabis advocate, entrepreneur Berner. From their earliest days in a San Francisco garage to the rise in global growth, the COOKIES Brand has remained authentic and true to their roots.
“For the past decade, I’ve put taste and experience first. I’m thrilled to work with Gage, a company that is just as passionate about our brand as we are, to provide Canadian consumers with some of the best flower and cannabis products available in the world. It feels good to be in a position to diversify the current flavor profile on the Canadian market, with a planned flagship store in Toronto, I think the Canadian connoisseur will be proud to have COOKIES. NOYA already has our standards dialed in as far as cultivation goes, so this should make a smooth and powerful introduction to the COOKIES brand in Canada.”-Cookies Founder, Berner
The Gage Growth Corp. focuses on providing the highest quality cannabis experience to consumers in the State of Michigan and Canada. In recent years, the Canadian sports landscape has been dominated by the Toronto Raptors and in fitting fashion, the COOKIES Brand will kick off their launch with the Gary Payton line, announcing via instagram;
“We had to start the Cookies line-up with the best of the best. So, to properly introduce Ontario to the world of Cookies, we’re kicking things off with the people’s champ – Gary Payton”-Cookies Canada
Prolific NBA icon Kevin Durant made waves across the world, announcing a collaborative content partnership with Weedmaps. Kevin Durant’s VC firm Thirty Five Ventures and Weedmaps are coming together to advocate for Cannabis and Sports as well as normalize the conversation through meaningful content initiatives.
Kevin Durant is a Professional NBA athlete with highlights that include; twelve-time NBA All-Star honors, two NBA championships, a NBA Most Valuable Player Award, Two Finals MVP Awards, Two All-Star game MVP Awards, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA rookie of the year award and has amassed Two Gold Medals.
With Cannabis coming to the forefront and leagues adopting new policies, athletes like Kevin Durant are betting big on Cannabis. Considered by many to be one of the best NBA players, Kevin Durant is winning off court as an entrepreneur and investor with an eye for tech and emerging industries.
Mid August, Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman were joined by Chris Beals on the Out Of Office Podcast to announce their partnership with Weedmaps, discuss the sponsorship agreement with Kevin’s Boardroom and share a glimpse of what’s to come in 2022.
“We talked about this, wanting to get into this space, like you (Rich Kleiman) said a few months back and to actually see it come full circle now and this conversation around cannabis, we always had every day. You know, just as friends and for us to, you know, actually try to tell stories around it and seeing the parallels with the sports world. It’s been incredible just to work through the deal, but now to have it signed, sealed. It’s exciting.”-Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant made headlines again in 2022, dropping cannabis dimes on David Letterman’s Netflix special. Looking to normalize the conversation, Kevin Durant spoke openly with David Letterman about cannabis and how it affects him;
“To me it clears the distractions out of your brain a little bit, settles you down, it’s like having a glass of wine… We partnered with Weedmaps on content, and to try to figure out ways to change the narrative around athletes and marijuana.”adding, “It’s confusing to a lot of people, you can look around this city, there’s going to be dispensaries everywhere , where you can actually go buy weed. It’s even crazier that you got people in jail for 20 years for selling a pound…”-Kevin Durant | My next guest needs no introduction – Netflix
In a historic moment, Klay Thompson became the first active NBA athlete to back a CBD brand.
Klay’s career highlights includes; being selected to the NBA All Rookie Team, NBA Three Point Comp Champion, NBA all Defensive Team, 2x All-NBA Third Team, 5x NBA All Star and a Three time NBA Champion with the GSW.
Klay has dealt with his fair share of injuries and today is advocating for CBD and a clean healthy lifestyle. He’s partnered with other elite athletes to create a unique product line “Just Live” which caters to fitness enthusiasts and athletes of all levels looking for natural, clean alternatives.
“Whether it’s winding down after a game, working through muscle pain, or recovering from an injury, CBD is a natural one-stop-shop that allows me to prioritize my physical and mental health.”-Klay Thompson
Pushing the boundaries off the court, Klay recently joined “Undisputed” to chat about the societal stigmas and social justice issues that exist, in an effort to normalize the sports cannabis conversation;
“The stigma behind [CBD] has always been it’s a drug or something you are smoking. But it comes in so many forms. The NBA is pretty progressive, as it’s shown over the summer with social justice and in other aspects. The NBA is leading by example by being progressive-minded. It’s great for sport. There are so many natural properties. It doesn’t have to be smoked. It can be applied as cream or used as pills, and it has hot-cold remedies as lotion. It’s a natural way of healing.”-Klay Thompson
Retired NBA legend, Cannabis Advocate, Podcaster and Megastar Matt Barnes is making headlines again within the cannabis industry, launching Eaze Social Equity Cannabis Business Incubator Nationally.
Matt Barnes is set to join Eaze as a Sr. Advisor to its board of directors and management, to help with policy, social impact and industry relations.
“I’m here to support real, tangible gains for Black and Brown entrepreneurs nationally through Eaze’s groundbreaking equity programs. There’s opportunity in growing infrastructures that lasts. It’s about understanding the market and the audience and building sustainable success. That’s the goal of Momentum. I want to help build because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.”-Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes has been an integral contributor to the Cannabis Industry with a huge platform that will provide an opportunity to connect and directly impact his community.