Everyone emblazons 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. Others buck the trend and receive incredible results by doing so. 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 contributed his talents to many different NBA teams during his sixteen year career. As 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 medicine 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.
Spearheading the 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 whom he did not trust 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 company 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 time of inception. 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.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 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.
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.
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 first hand.
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 apart of the Minority Cannabis Business Association who are 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 deafening 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. They aim 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 his loved ones with the blessing of generational wealth.
*Footnote: Al Harrington is 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.