Al Harrington is a man on a mission to create 100 millionaires in the legal cannabis industry.
The owner of Viola has led the meager 2 percent of ownership by people of color in the legal cannabis space, and he is doing his part to level the playing field. Black people are still disproportionately arrested and jailed for cannabis-related crimes.
“That is an issue,” Harrington said to Forbes. “How can [the policing of] this drug have done so much harm in our communities,” he asks, “and now is a multibillion-dollar industry and not only are we not in position to participate, but we’re still locked up because of it?”
Harrington has assembled an investment group that includes current and former NBA players like J.R. Smith, DeMarcus Cousins, Ben Gordon, Josh Childress and Kenyon Martin. He also partnered with NBA legend Allen Iverson and launched a strain for him under Viola.
In 2011, Harrington launched a business that produces cannabis extracts. The company Viola Extracts has become one of the nation’s leading producers and licensed wholesalers of premium quality cannabis products.
Viola began operations in Denver, Colorado, in 2012, and now operates in Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and California, and has grown to become a respected, top-selling national brand in the cannabis industry.
“Over the last five years, Viola has been dedicated to creating and producing quality herbal experiences for our customers,” said Harrington via a statement in 2020.
According to reports, Viola launched an incubator program two years ago, investing close to $700,000 into four companies. With a strategy of buying into already functioning companies and staying away from unproven concepts, Harrington usually negotiates between a reported 10 percent to 25 percent stake in exchange for help with marketing and fundraising.
Harrington also has invested a reported $1 million to help social equity applicants get licenses to operate cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles.
Out of 70 applicants, only four made it through the license vetting process, with two being issued licenses.
Bridging The Gap
“It’s about generational wealth,” Harrington continued. “These licenses can be anywhere from $3 million to $5 million, even more than that depending on the location. And for people who never made more than $30,000 in a year, that’s life-changing money with a life-changing opportunity.”
The company was inspired by his grandmother, Viola, who came to visit him in 2011, while he played for the Denver Nuggets and carried a veritable “pharmacy” of pills to treat her glaucoma and diabetes.
Harrington suggested that medicinal marijuana might help her eyesight, and after initial trepidations, she tried it and felt healed.
Come swing thru @EndoVibe 420 is coming and we have amazing deals! Also with #Al_harrington and that @Violabrands pack is here! with @alleniverson #cannabis #rec_au #medical #pre_rolls #wellness #concentrate we have the best tested and cleanest in the state!!🔥🔥🔥#yadig pic.twitter.com/5AfRkcfphE
— Robert Griffin (@chief1love) April 17, 2022
Leader Of The New Cool
“She’s crying tears and said, ‘I’m healed. I haven’t been able to read the words in my Bible for over three years,’ ” Harrington said.
Viola’s mission is to increase minority participation and ownership in the cannabis industry while positively impacting and reinvesting in communities most affected by the war on drugs. With over 10 years of experience growing premium flowers and producing award-winning extracts, Viola offers various strains and products across five states and Canada.
Now Harrington is leading the charge in the new corporatization of industries previously demonized when it came to people of color.