Viola and Allen Iverson Partner on New Cannabis Launch “IVERSON ’01”

The cannabis industry in Michigan is expanding as new strains and businesses are hitting the State’s market. With more than ten years in the game, Viola, in conjunction with NBA legend Allen Iverson, is releasing their latest strain, IVERSON ’01. The second collection under the collaboration will be available exclusively in Michigan, adding to the State’s budding business.

Viola, founded in 2011 by CEO Al Harrington, is the leading Black-owned producer and licensed reseller of premium cannabis products. The IVERSON ’01 strain is a part of a multi-year partnership between Viola and the basketball giant. The Indica-dominant strain crosses F1 Durban, Gushers, and Runtz. Pre-rolls and the packaged flowers were cultivated in Detroit and will be available for purchase at select dispensaries across metro Detroit. Iverson will also appear at five dispensaries across time to commemorate the collection; Bazonzoes in Walled Lake at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 25, followed by 3Fifteen Cannabis in Hamtramck at 5 p.m. On Saturday, Iverson will greet fans at Skymint in Hazel Park at 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m at Liv in Ferndale, and 3:45 p.m. at Herbology in River Rouge.

“I’m excited to continue the partnership with my brother Al and bring our newest strain to Detroit,” said Iverson. “Everything I do is for the fans, and this is no different.”

Though the strain is a limited edition, the CEO will let Michiganders decide how long to keep the IVERSON ’01 strain in rotation. Viola plans to continue pushing to find the best greens, or purples, to bring to consumers.

“We’ll let the customers decide when we’re going to pull it. One thing we just realize in the industry, people love new stuff, they love new genetics. We definitely want to be on the cutting edge of that. We’re constantly pheno-hunting and growing our own stuff trying to find the next best thing,” says Harrington.

More than being a staple in the cannabis industry, Viola hopes its work will increase equity for Black and brown people who are often excluded from the multi-billion dollar industry.

“People of color represent less than six percent of the industry and I think when you think about Blacks, I think it’s less than two percent. But when you look at the history of it, 85 percent of all drug arrests in Black communities have all been cannabis related,” says Harrington. “We don’t own any farms, we don’t own any trucks or any of those things, but we’re the ones going to jail for it from the distribution side. I wanted our people to participate. I’m on a mission to change that with cannabis and hopefully I can bring as many talented people to the industry as possible and we can win at an ownership level so we can be able to dictate how we give back to our community.”

Detroit City Council recently voted to increase recreational marijuana dispensaries, yet ordinances threaten to slow progress, effectively keeping Detroit from the recreational market. Despite voters electing to legalize marijuana in 2019, Detroiters face an uphill battle to open recreational dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses. For Viola, much like Allen Iverson, the push for cannabis companies is here to push boundaries and create a new normal.

“When I think about Allen, the icon that he is, how disruptive he was, how he changed the way the game was played, the way the game is perceived, the way athletes conducted themselves in a positive way; meaning being themselves,” says Harrington. “Realizing you can be yourself and people will love you for it. When I think about cannabis, it’s the same thing. It’s groundbreaking. It’s disruptive. We’re constantly changing how people perceive cannabis, how they use cannabis; it aligned perfectly.”

Viola currently operates in five states and across Canada. The IVERSON ’01 strain will be available beginning March 25.

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