NBA Hall of Fame Allen Iverson has joined Viola, a purpose-driven cannabis brand co-founded by basketball great Al Harrington.
As Viola’s talent partner, Iverson will continue to build on many of Harrington’s business initiatives, leading the drop of the first strain of Viola’s The Iverson Collection in October. Other cannabis and non-cannabis products will follow.
“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,” Iverson said, after visiting Viola’s 18,000 sq ft. grow in Detroit last March.
Harrington added, “In the same way Allen impacted the culture, we’re going to continue to impact the cannabis industry. We’re going to keep pushing boundaries. I’m honored to have Allen on board. We want to continue to inspire others and encourage people of color to participate in the cannabis space.”
Although Iverson and Harrington were never teammates, over time they developed a beautiful friendship — they actually call it a brotherhood, taking inspiration from one another for years.
During his time in the league, Iverson fought hard change the narrative around fashion and style. Similarly, Harrington has been working to educate and enlighten the NBA and other sports leagues and incumbents on the healing power of cannabis and the racist origins of its stigma and the War on Drugs.
This connection made the partnership a no-brainer, the athletes explained.
Earlier this year, Viola became the first Black-owned multinational cannabis brand after cannabinoid-focused biopharmaceutical company Avicanna agreed to license the brand, using it to create specific formulations for sale across medical and consumer retail channels in Canada. Viola will receive a royalty fee for the use of its name, but Avicanna will ultimately develop the products being sold north of the border.
More recently, the company received Mezz Brands into its incubator program, launched last October with the objective of providing operational support to minority-owned cannabis businesses.