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Former NBA Player Hopes to Create Better Opportunities for Communities of Color

Former NBA Player Al Harrington Wants to Create Opportunities for Communities of Color to Benefit from Cannabis Industry

With basketball on our minds these days, as in NBA finals, cannabis use among players from all sports is a topic of great interest.

Knowing what we know about the benefits of medical cannabis, inevitably athletes and cannabis intersect on many levels, from pain management to the reduction of brain swelling.

One player, Al Harrington who played for a variety of teams including the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors, told Vice News that when he was growing up in New Jersey he was afraid to touch marijuana. These days, he does a lot more than touch it.

After his 16-year NBA career, Harrington not only touches weed, he's invested $5 million in a cannabis company that he hopes can help people out West where his products are currently sold. He also wants to give back in his former neighborhood in Orange, New Jersey.

"The first thing I started thinking about was how can I go back into my old community and try to uplift the community by bringing this industry there and creating jobs," Harrington told Vice.

Harrington's company is called Viola Extracts, which makes cannabis extracts that are sold in dozens of stores out West. He also owns Harrington Wellness, which makes pure CBD products.

After being named an All-American basketball player in high school, Harrington went right into the NBA, where he played for seven teams.

Harrington hopes his new cannabis career will be as successful.

"I really feel like my company is going to change people's lives. It's going to change people's lives through opportunity and…through medication and through education."

He says he’d like to bring opportunities to New Jersey except, for now, the only companies allowed to sell there are the five licensed MMJ dispensaries already active. A sixth dispensary is expected to open in New Jersey in the coming weeks.

Harrington acknowledged that it's been tough for people of color from impoverished neighborhoods to get into the cannabis industry.

"That's why I have to continue to try to be an advocate to change some of the laws and break down some of the barriers so that we can allow some of the smaller people to participate and we can really uplift our community with this plant."

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