The Cannabis Industry Has A Big Problem. Kanye’s Manager Just Joined A Company Fixing It
Just 3% of the cannabis industry’s market share is currently owned by Black people. Village is a national conglomerate fighting for equity for Black-owned brands, and Kanye West’s manager, John Monopoly, just joined the team.
Former NBA player Al Harrington and Dan Pettigrew co-founded Village two years ago when they realized there was a lack of Black entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color in the cannabis space.
“We eventually see our company as being, almost, a distributor throughout this space. And we want to be able to help as many people of color be able to enter into the cannabis space and actually be able to be successful at it,” Harrington said.
The lack of racial diversity in the market is often credited to financial barriers to entry. Startup costs to open a dispensary can be hundreds of thousands if not over of a million dollars.
But there’s community trauma as well. There can be hesitation and fear around starting a business within an industry that has historically criminalized your community.
“Statistics show that while Black people were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, they make up only a small number of those profiting from the multibillion dollar legalized pot industry,” a Wall Street Journal video explains.
In the future, Harrington said Village will provide educational content as well since resources on how to jump through all the hoops needed to open a cannabis business are often lacking.
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“One of the things that I don’t like about athletes and entertainers is a lot of times we don’t work together. And you know, we talk about it all the time,” Harrington said, “but a lot of times it doesn’t happen.”
Monopoly, who manages Kanye West, has decades of experience in the music industry. As he joins Village, he is bringing the power of his experience and connections within music. His vision for Village is all about maximizing impact by uniting people from across industries.
“We plan to use all of our skill sets to support each other’s initiatives. With the team’s strong knowledge and expertise in the space coupled with my 30-year-plus career centered in music and culture, we plan to use expertise, influence and access to grow and develop a cannabis brand that will be inclusive and impactful,” Monopoly said in an emailed statement.
“Our plan is two-fold,” Monopoly said. “Firstly, Village is 100% minority owned. By adding local minorities through partnerships with each individual state we’re in, we will ultimately increase Black ownership in every state where we operate.”
Monopoly said the second part of Village’s strategy “expands beyond ownership directly in Village by affiliating with Black and minority owned cannabis brands that we can onboard in the states where we own licenses.”
Village recently added former NBA player Wilson Chandler’s cannabis brand, Nobody’s Home, to its roster. The dispensary and lifestyle brand is based out of Benton Harbor, Michigan, where Chandler is from.
Being part of Village, Chandler said, means having extra support and constantly learning from Harrington by “going through the fire with him and seeing him build his brand and build his business.”
To kick off their partnership, Chandler put together a free music festival in Benton Harbor, happening Labor Day weekend and featuring artists like Rick Ross, G Herbo, Chase B and Freddie Gibbs.
Music moguls like Jay-Z, who launched a fund to help minority-owned cannabis startups, have also put their resources to increasing Black equity in this industry.
Village isn’t the first case where entertainers push for equity in the cannabis industry. But, Village says it’s the largest conglomerate working on the issue and is bringing leaders together from different industries.
As the group grows, its ability to bring power players together from different industries will determine how powerful it can grow and, thus, how much Village can influence a more equitable cannabis industry.