Al Harrington, former NBA player and current CEO of Viola Extracts. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Ron Wyden announced this week that they are working to advance comprehensive marijuana reform legislation.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people — particularly people of color,” the senators said in a joint statement on Monday. “Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country.”
“But that alone is not enough,” the statement continued. “As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”
Former NBA journeyman Al Harrington, who played 16 years of professional basketball, is a leading advocate for reforming marijuana laws and has been pushing lawmakers to enact change.
Al Harrington of the Washington Wizards in November 2013. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
The CEO and co-founder of the cannabis company Viola Brands, Harrington told Yahoo News that Black Americans deserve to have an equitable share of a booming marijuana industry that once “destroyed” parts of the Black community.
“Right now we represent less than 4 percent of the industry, especially when you talk specifically to Black ownership and participation,” Harrington said. “We have to figure out a way to stop that and to get more involved in the industry. … Social equity in theory is a good program, but until we can figure out funding, it’s something that we’re not going to be to take advantage of.”
Last week, Harrington interviewed Schumer on Instagram Live and the two talked about increasing partnerships to enact change. Harrington added that connecting with the likes of Schumer and Booker will help inform more politicians on the challenges happening on the ground.
“Talking with Schumer and Cory Booker, just really being at that table, and just letting them know what’s really going on on the ground [is important],” Harrington said. “A lot of them aren’t businessmen or women. They’re not true entrepreneurs, they’re politicians. We put them in those positions to do a job, but when we think about what’s going on in the cannabis industry, you really need industry knowledge in order to be able to really write the laws, to be able to have the industry be successful. So I’m just really excited about the opportunity.”
Published: February 08, 2021