Support Black-Owned Brands Year-Round￼
Black History Month may be coming to an end, but you can join Pure Options in supporting black-owned companies all year long through conscious shopping of Michigan’s black-owned brands. The issue of social equity is crucial to the cannabis industry, and Pure Options is committed to stocking and promoting black-owned brands, in addition to our more broadly based social equity efforts.
The major players in the Michigan market are all founded by former athletes, who each nod to the benefits of cannabis in healing the body and helping alleviate pain as part of their inspiration to enter the industry, as well as the impact that can be made by social equity efforts to help counteract the long-lasting and devastating effects of the war on drugs on minority communities.
Primitiv, with a cultivation facility in Webberville, dubs itself a “Quality of Life Business,” co-founded by former Detroit Lions players, 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Calvin Johnson Jr., and Rob Sims.
Both men have talked openly about the intense beating their bodies took during their NFL careers. Calvin “retired from the NFL after just 9 seasons because of chronic pain”, and “says that things could have been different if the league had allowed players to use cannabis treatments,” while Sims has talked about a “secret cannabis culture in the NFL” that included athletes choosing to medicate pain with cannabis rather than opioids.
In founding Primitiv, Johnson and Sims hoped to combat the stigma that keeps cannabis from being fully legitimized medically, while providing safe, effective products to help chronic pain sufferers.
They have already partnered with, and say they will continue to fund research initiatives for, the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard University. Studies have looked at the health benefits of cannabis and the best medical delivery methods for a variety of conditions, including CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is on the rise among football players.
Undrafted is a line of products created by NBA Hall of Famer and Detroit Pistons icon, Ben Wallace, in collaboration with Jackson-based cannabis company, RAIR. An outspoken cannabis rights advocate, Wallace said in a press release that “There’s no denying that marijuana has a healing upside for athletes or anyone struggling with pain… So, alongside launching the Undrafted brand, the RAIR team and I will continue to push to end this stigma associated with cannabis use.”
Thus far Undrafted has released energizing strains like Clockwork, Bud Don’t Lie, and Block Party, as well as the more relaxed Motown OG, a limited edition collaboration with Exotics Only.
The brand name Undrafted comes from Wallace being the only undrafted player in the NBA Hall of Fame, so Wallace knows about working as an underdog. Honoring his adopted city, Wallace developed “a brand that reflects the unrelenting spirit of Detroit.”
RAIR also has the distinction of being one of only a handful of women-led cannabis brands
Viola Brands is the only internationally operating black-owned company with an arm in Michigan. NBA star Al Harrington entered the cannabis industry with Viola Extracts in 2011 while he was playing for the Denver Nuggets. Named for his grandmother Viola, Harrington had witnessed first-hand how cannabis helped her manage her glaucoma.
10 years later, the company had grown into Viola Brands, and Harrington was joined in by NBA Hall of Fame Allen Iverson, launching the “Iverson Collection” of products in 2021.
Viola currently offers its products in Michigan, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington, and Canada. In Michigan Viola operates a 46,000 sq. foot cultivation facility in Detroit, where they rotate over 40 strains throughout the year. In February of 2022 Cannabis Business Times named Viola as the #1 best cannabis company to work for in cultivation.
Viola has dedicated much of its resources to community reinvestment and cannabis equity, launching the Viola Cares program to provide support to local communities and work toward shaping government policy on cannabis through the lens of social justice reform.
The Viola Accelerator works directly with small black-owned businesses to provide operational support to help them get an edge in an uber-competitive industry. In 2021 Viola opened the Harrington Institute for Cannabis Education in partnership with the Cleveland School of Cannabis.