Rapper and actor Tip “T.I.” Harris has been named social justice and reform ambassador for Viola, a multi-state cannabis brand with a heavy presence in California, the company announced Monday.
Viola, which was founded in 2011 by former NBA player Al Harrington, is considered the largest Black-owned multi-state cannabis brand in the country. It has prioritized social equity programs and criminal reform throughout its history, perhaps most notably with its Viola Cares program. The addition of T.I., who has decades of experience advocating for minority communities, will expand those efforts, according to the company.
T.I., in a statement released by Viola, said he was looking forward to working with Viola to support communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
“Together we will expand social justice reform by providing tangible resources for disenfranchised communities and opportunities to build economic autonomy within the cannabis industry,” he said.
A closer look at the partnership:
T.I., according to Viola, will direct the community impact strategy for Viola in his new senior advisory role. This will involve taking a lead role in the development of programs and initiatives that promote a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.
- Much of the work will be done through the Viola Cares program, which the company launched this year. Through Viola Cares, the company aims to fully fund social equity applicants who want to enter the regulated cannabis industry.
- Viola and T.I. plan to use their new partnership to support adult halfway houses in six states, including California, in tandem with Us or Else, a social justice movement started four years ago by T.I.
- The partnership will also help provide scholarships to students studying cannabis at Southern University, a Louisiana-based HBCU.
- On Dec. 21, the sides launched the new partnership by providing free coats and shoes to boys and men ages 11 to 25 who were participating in the Next Level Boys Academy diversion program in Georgia.
A fitting pairing
Viola, which counts flower and extracts among its main products, has operations in California, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada.
- In September, Viola teamed with Los Angeles-based Ball Family Farms to donate a percentage of California profits from a select strain to the Root & Rebound nonprofit, which offers support services to disadvantaged communities. That promotion was tied to National Expungement Week.
- Harrington, who played 16 seasons in the NBA, said one of his company’s goals is to create 100 Black millionaires through Viola’s business incubator and social equity programs.
- In addition to his entertainment career, T.I. has also been involved in social activism. He served on a mayor’s task force to address inequalities in his hometown of Atlanta and has pushed for prison reform on the federal level.
“As we continue to increase our social imprint within the cannabis industry, I am honored to welcome my brother T.I. into the Viola family,” Harrington said. “His work helping communities of color over the years directly aligns with Viola’s core values as we look to meet the needs of underserved communities by fostering new opportunities for people that look like us.”
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