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For athletes like Al Harrington, medical marijuana is therapy and business

Al Harrington is a retired NBA athlete who has since founded a business in the world of medical marijuana. Not only is he fond of the plant’s therapeutic powers, but he is also cognizant of what starting a marijuana business can mean for Black people. It is in ownership above all else, that freedom, power, and self-determination are found.

Everyone forges their own path and experiences different trials and tribulations along their journey. Some decide to play it safe and live according to the status quo. Since medical marijuana is now legal in most states, including Arizona, people who want to embark on a natural healing journey can do so easily by obtaining a medical marijuana card.

Regardless, any situation cannot be entirely conquered without hard work. Clearly, Al Harrington understands this concept and has become a lucrative business owner throughout his life process.

Al Harrington and an athletes’ relationship with medical marijuana

Al Harrington contributed his talents to many different NBA teams during his sixteen-year career. A pivotal role player, he provided his most significant minutes throughout what many call the “Post-Jordan” era. During this time, the NBA ramped up on regulations and implemented much stricter rules regarding medication usage. 

Unfortunately, we never got to see the full potential of Al Harrington fully develop into fruition due to multiple injuries. When a player gets injured in the NBA, doctors do not hesitate to prescribe opioids especially after surgery is required. The majority of approved medicines on these doctors’ lists come with several side effects and detrimental factors.

Cannabis has been a banned substance in the NBA since 1999. After leaving the league, Harrington has embarked upon a mission to change the perspective around medical cannabis.

It all started while he was playing for the Denver Nuggets and caught wind of the various medicinal benefits cannabis could offer those with certain ailments. It struck a chord with him because his grandmother suffered severely from glaucoma and was not seeing improvements with her current medical regimen.

Initially reluctant, Al convinced his 81-year-old grandmother to consume cannabis in hopes that she would experience improvement with her negative symptoms.

After waking up from his ninety-minute pre-game nap, he checked in on his grandmother. Tears streamed down her face as she was finally able to read the words in her Bible for the first time in three years.

marijuana starting a business

Starting a marijuana business and spearheading an effort

This miraculous experience inspired Harrington to start his own medical marijuana company aptly titled, “Viola,” which is his grandmother’s name.

At first, he received many offers from growers and cultivators, but he did not trust them given the fact that he was a minority trying his hand within an all-cash business for the first time. Rather than taking that risk, he decided to start his own marijuana business from the ground up with his cousin Dan. 

The business actually began under his cousin’s name and he joined as a silent partner, due to the fact that he was still playing in the NBA at the time of inception.

Viola Brands

They started in 2011 as Viola Extracts under the Colorado caregivers model. Their primary patients were those suffering from HIV. In 2014, they purchased a 12,000 square foot facility in Denver that could hold up to sixteen plants at a time.

Today, they sell their products in over 30 stores across the country and operate vertically integrated facilities in Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, and California.

athletes medical marijuana

As a top-ranked concentrate company in Colorado, Viola Brands carries a variety of products. In stores, they offer high-quality flower, vapes, extracts, shatter, butter, crumble, and solventless water hash.

A major way that Viola spreads its awareness is by giving certain platforms support much before they are known to the public. That way, they get in at a good price and also play a mutual role in helping each business soar.

They started their diverse marketing approach by holding giveaways on an app called, “Claim It.” Their first major distributor was the Koreatown Medical Marijuana Collective in Melrose near West Hollywood.

Their first joint partnership with Vertical Brands gave them some momentum to continue pursuing different opportunities. Recently, they struck a deal with Pax who is a powerhouse in the cannabis industry.

Therapeutic tendencies are why athletes flock to medical marijuana

Starting a business in marijuana wasn’t just about the financial benefits, but it allowed Harrington to evolve further into offering people relief.

Viola continues to elevate its elite brand approach by branching out to different areas of the cannabis industry.

Al started a CBD offshoot called, “Harrington Wellness” and launched his Re+Play line a few months ago. The company bestows some of the market’s finest products that deal with relief, relaxation, and recovery in the form of all hemp-based topicals, tinctures, capsules, and recovery drinks.

They leverage proprietary research, cutting-edge science, and a global distribution network to distribute personal care products that possess terrific innovation. 

Harrington is also a member of the upstart BIG3 basketball league. He is a major reason why they are the first officially recognized professional league to allow cannabis to be used for dynamic medical usage. He has helped write a blueprint for what athletes can do within the world of medical marijuana.

Growing up, cannabis was demonized within Harrington’s New Jersey home. Thus, he did not consume the herb until he was 29 years old. Today, he regularly consumes within social circles, but never solely by himself.

During the last two years of his NBA career, he would apply CBD creams and droplets onto his knees to relieve the pain he was experiencing. Amazingly, these substances never showed up on any drug test. By taking this route, Al discovered the wondrous healing components of cannabis firsthand.

Becoming a model businessperson

A major reason why Harrington is one of the top cannabis entrepreneurs in the country is due to the fact that he is extremely smart. He takes all the right steps when it comes to supply chain management, technology, and e-commerce practices.

He did so by committing to research and staying under the radar by putting forth a consistent grind to get his company to soar. The timing worked out magnificently as his company began to reap incredible results and received features in the press right around the time cannabis started to become a bit more destigmatized. 

Harrington is an outstanding cultural influencer. By creating a marvelous and diverse network, Viola Brands has become one of the most illustrious cannabis companies in the world. For instance, he is a part of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, which is responsible for developing sensible, equitable, and diverse policies.

He started a scholarship fund with Huey Abeyi of the Historical Black Cannabis University as well. This will give five boys and five girls the opportunity to learn about the aspects of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail entrepreneurship. 

Al Harrington is a resounding voice for minorities within the cannabis community. His company addresses biases against minorities within the industry and strives to knock down barriers for individuals of color. It aims to do so via economic empowerment, social justice, and consumer awareness.

The cannabis industry is a booming business that could reach the $20 billion mark by 2021. Without a doubt, Al Harrington and Viola Brands continue to create a major imprint and will leave Harrington’s loved ones with the blessings of generational wealth.

These athletes remind us that cannabis is therapeutic

Cannabis is quite a strange fruit with unusual connotations. The plant itself carries no harm, hardly any negative properties, and does not provide a clear athletic advantage. Rather, cannabis is much like a recovery protein shake in the sense that it provides therapeutic qualities and the utmost relief.

The strange fruit aspect surrounding cannabis involves the stipulations, the fact that it is most commonly referred to as “marijuana” and the pick-and-choose aspects that are involved.

For those unaware, cannabis has always been safe and undeserving of a Schedule 1 categorization. After Prohibition, Harry Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, saw too little cocaine and heroin use.

marijuana propaganda
Common posters after Prohibition ended – a tool of targeting minorities (via New Republic)
anslinger propaganda
Anslinger propaganda (via KQED)

Therefore, he manufactured a war on drugs with white supremacist overtones and fear appeal. Turning it from medicinal to evil cannabis became marijuana and the propaganda machine began turning its wheels.

Cannabis can be therapeutic

Today, cannabis has proved its medicinal and therapeutic properties, has become widely accepted and adopted. And has even allowed certain investors to make a ton of money.

Yet it still remains a Schedule 1 drug and a punishable offense for Olympic track stars such as Sha’Carri Richardson. Here are a few athletes and businessmen that prove cannabis provides a significant boost in relief and is a tool for fair productivity.

Montell Williams is a classic man

The plant aids this man’s journey with Multiple Sclerosis and has pushed him to become quite the activist.

His Michigan Cannabis Prisoner Relief Fund aims to achieve restorative justice for those persecuted due to skin color surrounding this harmless medicinal agent.

Many people are convicted of a crimeless activity while others build generational wealth from cannabis. It all depends on who you are and who you know.

cannabis athletes
Dreads and cannabis do not make you a criminal (via Worldly Saints)

Ricky Williams blossomed within the wrong era

Ricky was nailed to the cross as one of the athletes using cannabis while in the NFL. Little did people know, Ricky busted his tail in the offseason and cannabis drove him to try nontraditional forms of exercise.

For instance, yoga and ballet were adopted into his routines to maintain balance and homeostasis. Certainly ahead of his time, this is another example of how Anslinger’s desperate actions led to the criminalization of a perfectly normal and even advanced human being.

Calvin Johnson toked and still couldn’t tolerate the unbearable NFL pain

“Megatron” was forced to retire at the ripe age of 29.

His body could not take the gauntlet the NFL put him through any longer. After every game to heal himself, CJ would consume cannabis. In no shape or form was he trying to hurt himself, anyone else or doing anything wrong.

Yet, he had to keep this postgame ritual under wraps for fear of losing sponsorships and even his contract with the Detroit Lions. Simply unfortunate.

Al Harrington’s cannabis brand is named after his grandmother, Viola

Cannabis healed Al’s mother’s glaucoma as she was finally able to see the words in her Bible moments after inhaling. If that doesn’t tell you that cannabis can be therapeutic, nothing will.

Harrington spearheads cannabis efforts around the country and has advocated to make it the potential wellness product of Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league.

cannabis therapeutic for athletes
Al Harrington points a mile high to the sky (via BIG3)

He never smoked while in the NBA, but now enjoys the benefits and properties that the plant has enhanced within his own life.

His vertically integrated company, Viola, operates in Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, and California. Kenyon Martin serves as a pivotal investor as they fight for sensible, equitable, and diverse policies. 

Cannabis is clearly synonymous with healing

Michael Phelps & Tim Lincecum have proved their ability to perform at an extremely high level of competition and both enjoy a toke or two.

Scientifically, there is absolutely nothing that proves cannabis is harmful. It may prove to be slightly habit-forming but much like any device or substance in this world, it is contextual and depends on the person. These two men proved they can be successful and put forth upper echelon effort all the while utilizing cannabis as a medicinal tool along the way.

All in all, cannabis has done much more help to athletes and business bodies than it has done harm. It is the corrupt overlords that have made it hurt innocent people and who flipped the script on the plant for the worse.

cannabis therapeutic
Opportunities exist as long as enough people understand (via Minority Cannabis Business Association)

Unfortunately, corrupt systemic regulations remain firmly in place and it will take years of resistance and activism to dismantle them. Until then, keep on keeping on for all that is right in the world!

Al Harrington has a very real talk with David Stern about weed use in NBA

Al Harrington is really out here.

The former NBA forward, who played for 7 teams over 16 seasons, has become a weed entrepreneur with over $3.5 million invested in grow houses, farms, and facilities across California, Oregon, Michigan, and Jamaica.

In a documentary with LeBron’s Uninterrupted platform, Harrington described how he started in the cannabis game.

After a series of botched knee surgeries gave him a staph infection and chronic pain, Harrington was taking a collection of painkillers just to get through the day.

A friend recommended cannabis, specifically the anti-inflammatory component CBD, to help deal with his pain. After immediately feeling the positive effects of marijuana, Harrington tried to convince his grandmother Viola, who was suffering with glaucoma, to try some weed.

After finally convincing her to try CBD, Harrington’s grandmother claimed she was cured, and Harrington saw the truly medicinal aspects of weed, beyond just helping him with some knee pain.

Now, Harrington is at the forefront of trying to normalize bud in professional sports, where he thinks use is already widespread. He claimed that 70% of athletes across all major sports use pot and that it isn’t just the players. Harrington told Uninterrupted,

“I think it’s that big. Not only the players, but I think coaches consume, I think the owners consume. I think in sports it’s very prevalent and it’s right there.”

After discussing the specifics of his business, Harrington sat down with former NBA commissioner David Stern, who led the NBA during the height of cocaine and drug use amongst the players.

It was under Stern’s tenure (from 1984-2014) that the first marijuana regulations were put in place. Stern told Harrington that rules were implemented because players came to him complaining about other players balling while high,

“It was generally known at some point, until we tightened the rules, that a lot of our players were smoking a lot of marijuana. In fact, some of our players came to us and said, ‘Some of these guys are high coming into the game.’ But we began tightening it up, and at that time, people accepted the generally held wisdom that marijuana was a gateway drug and that if you start smoking, you’re liable to go on to bigger and better stuff.”

But as Stern pointed out, that ‘gateway drug’ idea has changed. And for Stern, it was Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s special on CNN ‘Weed’ that changed his own perception.

Now, the ex-commish says medical marijuana should be legal and the NBA should take it off the list of banned substances,

“I’m now at the point where, personally, I think [marijuana] probably should be removed from the ban list. I think there is universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal.”

To hear David Stern, who presided over the NBA during years of intense drug use and was in charge of cleaning up the image of the league, say that marijuana should be allowed is pretty wild.

Attitudes are changing, even a couple years ago it would’ve been controversial to see a former NBA player proudly boast their cannabis business like Harrington is.

As for the actual process of the NBA removing marijuana from the banned list, current commissioner Adam Silver told reddit back in August that they’re looking into it,

“I would say it’s something we will look at. I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana.”

The NBA has shown time and time again that they’re the most progressive league in America, constantly finding new ways to market their product and improve the game. Removing weed from the banned list would be a massive step in the continued process of normalization.

One has to imagine it’s only a matter of time.