“I started smoking cannabis in college. during my sophomore year,” reveals the NBA legend Allen Iverson. “Entering my rookie year, I got some really strong grips, and it changed my thought process about smoking.”
Now a weed connoisseur, Iverson has joined forces Together Al Harrington’s Viola Brands to launch a line of cannabis products and merchandise under the name The Iverson Collection.
But the journey in the world of marijuana wasn’t always easy for Iverson. In fact, the athlete was arrested in 1997 for possession of pot.
“When I first smoked, my high shot up. It was my first day on campus and the coach came up to our apartment looking for me and I was very high. I went straight to clean and everything, And he was only coming there to see me because it was my first day on campus. But I was really scared that he would feel like I was high. So, until I found out he was looking for me Until then, smoking for the first time was a great feeling.
right partner and right attitude
“Many people have approached me about cannabis in the past. But none of the offers seemed right. that is, until I got a call from Al [Harrington]Iverson explains when asked about the partnership with Viola. “Al just explained to me what he’s trying to do with his vision, how he’s trying to help people — primarily Our people, how he is trying to educate them and make them more aware of the benefits of cannabis and the stigma around it.
Attracted by Harrington’s personality and mission to help and educate people while empowering communities of color, Iverson eventually hopped on the cannabis train. “I was all in from that point on. For me, being part of the first black-owned cannabis multinational is key.”
The relationship between the two NBA greats goes beyond business, though: It’s very personal.
“If I could share a joint with anyone living or dead, it would still be Al Harrington,” Iverson insisted. “He’s been on me about weed for years and he has faith that I’ll be fine with the cannabis that he shares with me, that it will be right for me. So I trust him; it comforts me.” .
For Harrington, Iverson was also a perfect fit for Viola. “When I think about what we’re doing in the cannabis space, being a Black-owned company and being rare … and then I just think about how Allen impacted not only the league but my He influenced players like him as well. Alan was a game-changer, very disruptive and always in his own right. I feel the same way about Viola.”
And he continues, “Alan really stuck it out in corporate America, which wasn’t very comfortable with what he was doing.”
This, argues Harrington, opened the door for a whole new era of basketball players. Now, it’s Viola’s turn to do something similar for cannabis entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to entrepreneurs of color.
“When I think about the impact and awareness we want to bring, I couldn’t think of anyone more likely to do it in the world of sports than with Alan,” he says.
According to the pair, the partnership came about after Iverson visited Viola’s 18,000-square-foot Detroit Grow operation in March.
“Upon seeing Viola’s unwavering commitment to increasing minority participation and ownership (currently at only 4%) in the cannabis industry, as well as full-scale operations, true dedication to the plant, Alan was convinced this partnership was meant to be, explained Harrington in an earlier interview for Forbes.
indica-major, for our people
The first cannabis product in the Iverson collection is an indica-dominant flower called ’96. The name is a reference to the year Allen “The Answer” Iverson was drafted to the NBA.
The strain is the result of a hybridization between Secret Kush Mints and Grape Stomper.
This complex flavor profile combines a strong grapefruit candy-like aroma combined with notes of pine and mint. As Harrington discovered, the ’96 is coated in crystal trichomes and displays a variety of hues drawn from the bright green of Secret Kush mints and the signature purple of Grape Stopper.
Al and Alan explain that the concept was carefully tailored for their own culture.
“I think like our culture, we gravitate more toward indicas than sativas,” Harrington said. However, he assures that the Iverson collection will soon include sativas and hybrids, as well as many other fine products.
“But the first one really had to be representative of our culture. Indica, grape-flavored, you know,” Iverson says. “’96 Strain not only tastes good, but it also allows you to sit back and relax — and maybe watch basketball highlights.”
In fact, it wasn’t just the ’96 effect that was designed for a specific culture. The grapefruit-forward flavor also keeps its heritage.
“Our culture loves ‘gas,’ cannabis that tastes like gas or diesel. We want that strong stuff. So, when we thought of this opportunity with Allen Iverson, we thought it tasted Must be like gas and grapes. And we definitely got that,” says Harrington.
“I wanted something that would remind me of Dom Pérignon and this was it,” Iverson says.
Beyond cannabis, The Iverson Collection includes non-herb products. The initial merch lineup includes T-shirts, hoodies, grinders, lighters, basketballs, and more.
well-being and wellness
While The Iverson Collection is not strictly marketed as a medical cannabis line, both Iverson and Harrington find medicinal uses for it.
“I use it for therapy [purposes]of course,” declares Harrington. “The life I live now, running a business, being a husband, raising kids and taking care of my family, doesn’t let me go far. need something for. And then, I use it for my body as well, to treat the many injuries I’ve sustained over the course of my career. I haven’t taken any over-the-counter pharma drugs in probably 10 years. It’s my So common in the family that even my kids know what cannabinoids are.”
Iverson nodded in agreement with his good friend Al. People have their own opinion and that is a good thing. From my perspective, I am living proof of being an active cannabis consumer. It’s not the weed that will make you lazy: it’s just a state of mind.
“It’s definitely a lifestyle. It’s the drug but also to hang out with friends,” he complements. “It’s something I really believe in. I believe in plant medicine.”
When asked about the stereotype about cannabis users being lazy and unproductive, the basketball player duo lights up.
“We don’t even have those conversations anymore. Let them Google it,” he says, laughing out loud. “Yeah, they can just Google it.”
And Harrington adds: “We change the stigma on a daily basis by staying active, productive and smart … When people heard that Alan was involved in cannabis, they all freaked out. I’ve since seen probably 50 other big personalities.” I’ve seen people who want to get into the industry. And I love that. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s in front of us. And I think it would be a shame if people who look like us didn’t benefit from it.
But for all this to work, he says, cannabis needs to be regulated at a federal level, “like alcohol.” And change is coming soon.
However, there is a more pressing issue: clemency and expulsion.
“This is the stuff that really matters. Releasing people who are in prison to feed their families, while now we’re doing the same thing and being able to do it legally.”
Catch many pro-cannabis athletes at the most successful cannabis business event in the world Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference,
Returning to Miami for its 16th edition, it is the place where deals are made, money is raised, M&A begins, and companies meet investors and key partners. Join us April 11-12 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Florida. Do not miss
Via forbes, Original publication: October 8, 2021.