Veteran rapper T.I. is joining forces with Los Angeles-based cannabis brand Viola as its Social Justice and Reform Ambassador.
Viola as an entity has existed for a decade, but NBA-vet Al Harrington was still in the league when he started eyeballing his future plans and then did a couple of seasons abroad before completely committing his time to the cannabis industry. Harrington named the brand after his grandmother who suffers from glaucoma and diabetes.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the company come to prominence as Harrington has continued to upgrade the flower since launch. The Reign collab with Ball Family Farms we recently featured is a prime example. The recent years of success now find Viola operating in Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, California, Arizona and Nevada.
Being an effective brand is critical to the the causes that Viola has come to support over the years. As the founder of the nation’s leading and most visible Black-owned brand, Harrington has certainly worked to pay it forward. As ideas of equity and social justice have permeated deeper into the cannabis industry in recent years, spreading west from California, Viola has certainly found itself taking a lead in the programs meant to give the communities hit hardest by the war on cannabis a legit shot in the legal industry.
Even as those communities continue to be disproportionately targeted for cannabis offenses by law enforcement in the age of legalization, the work continues. Viola has committed $500,000 to date for funding and guiding six applicants through Phase 1 as well as 20 applicants through Phase 2 of our Social Equity Program in Los Angeles, according to their website. The company has worked with social equity brands outside its umbrella, the aforementioned Ball Family Farm collabs providing another solid example in this case too.
Viola is only looking to continue to expand on these efforts in bringing in Tip “T.I.” Harris. If there were a last supper portrait for rap south of the Mason-Dixon line, he would have a dope seat at the table in addition to his other efforts as a songwriter, actor, record producer and entrepreneur.
“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.”
According to Viola, T.I. will be taking a leading hands-on role in regard to the company’s community impact strategy. With his help, the company plans to continue on its previous efforts to make the cannabis industry more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
“He will drive Viola’s mission of racial equity and justice further by conveying the company’s core values as it continues to give back to communities most affected by the War on Drugs,” the company said when announcing T.I.’s new role. “His efforts in unity with Al Harrington’s will propel mass social reform of the cannabis industry.”
Viola said one of the things they expect to help the pair do will be forthcoming developments through the existing Viola Cares initiative. Viola Cares is the mechanism the company uses to fund social equity applicants trying to get their foot in the door of the cannabis industry. The goal of the program is to create 100 Black millionaires in the near future.
“I have the utmost respect for Al and all the work he has done with Viola to increase minority representation in cannabis and help Black and brown communities who have fallen victim to the War on Drugs,” T.I. said. “Together we will expand social justice reform by providing tangible resources for disenfranchised communities and opportunities to build economic autonomy within the cannabis industry.”
It’s important to note with these kinds of equity incubation programs it’s not just about the money and roof, which are certainly critical to success but aligning all the other planets needed to create a successful cannabis company. Like the education you get watching Harrington, a guy who has pulled it off better than most, operate.
Viola Cares also works in more traditional cannabis advocacy avenues outside the industry like supporting ongoing expungement efforts across the nation.
While this is his first dabble on the cannabis side of it, T.I. has extensive experience volunteering his time to social justice causes with various groups. And while America put a greater spotlight on the wider issues and circumstances around repeat incidents of police brutality in 2020, T.I. had been pushing the issue for years. He dropped his “Us or Else” documentary on the subject to go with a matching album in 2016, while speaking his mind on the subject plenty before that.
Keep an eye out for the brands the Viola Cares program will be providing support to. Buying their weed is a great way to help the effort to diversify the industry.