NBA veteran Al Harrington cannabis company, Viola Brands, announced a $13 million bridge funding round on Jan. 12. Santa Monica, Calif.-based investment bank DelMorgan & Co. served as the dedicated transaction advisor.
Bridge financing is a short-term financing option used to cover costs or fund a project.
With the cash injection, Viola will be able to explore markets in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
From celebrating its 10th anniversary and finalizing a partnership with Basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson on an exclusive cannabis strain, Viola had several achievements in 2021, Benzinga reported.
Under the Iverson partnership, Viola will feature a variety of cannabis and non-cannabis products, including The Iverson Collection, a series of strains that will launch across the markets in which Viola operates, according to a press release.
And in November 2021, Viola launched nationwide in Canada through a deal with Canadian biopharmaceutical company Avicanna, which will distribute Viola products through the Medical Cannabis by Shoppers online platform.
“We’re looking forward to a big 2022. The team at DelMorgan has always supported our vision and continues to be great partners for us as we bring Viola to new markets,” said Harrington said in an official release.
Harrington founded Viola in 2011 and is one of the leading producers and licensed wholesalers of premium quality cannabis products in the U.S., with its footprint across four states. Viola’s mission is to increase Black representation in the cannabis industry.
“The two reasons that Black entrepreneurs are not just blowing up and starting cannabis businesses left and right is historical disadvantages and bureaucrat challenges on the local and state level,” Laura Herrera, an independent cannabis consultant who also does research for the University of California Berkeley, told Finurah.
Harrington, who was the 25th overall pick in 1998 and retired after 16 seasons, is also the current assistant coach for the Cape Town Tigers in South Africa. Harrington played for the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards during his NBA career. He also played for a short time with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Harrington has been a long-time supporter of the legalization of marijuana. He named his cannabis company Viola after his grandmother. She suffered from glaucoma and diabetes, and taking Harrington’s advice, she tried cannabis and found significant relief.
“I still had never smoked weed a day in my life, but I’m like, Grandma, you know, they talk about medical marijuana can help this, that, and the other. And she was like, What is that? And I was like, You know, marijuana, weed. She was like, “Reefer? I ain’t smoking no reefer, boy, you better get outta my face!” Alright, grandma,” he told GQ. He said she later agreed to try weed, and afterward, he found her crying.
“I said, “Grandma, are you OK?” And she said, ‘I’m healed. You know I haven’t been able to read the words in my Bible for over three years?’ I saw cannabis give her that much relief.”
(If you or someone you know suffers from glaucoma, early medical intervention is critical in avoiding permanent vision loss. An ophthalmologist can prescribe a course of treatment for this chronic condition that can lead to blindness.)