While most athletes align themselves with CBD brands, five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber announced a partnership with Jason Wild and JW Asset Management, LLC to launch a $100 million private equity cannabis fund that will invest in companies led by entrepreneurs of color pursuing careers in the cannabis sector.
The sports star is also the founder of Webber Wellness, which will join forces with JW Asset Management to invest in underrepresented entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry and provide them with an ecosystem of business resources that will facilitate research and development (R&D), cultivation, retail licensing, distribution, branding, and marketing. JW has been an active investor in the cannabis industry since 2014 with over $2 billion in assets under management, investing in numerous industry leaders spanning multi-state operators, technology, and retail companies. Webber Wellness is a health and wellness company that Webber co-founded with CEO Lavetta Willis, who are both longtime cannabis and CBD advocates.
“As our country moves closer to federal legalization, I believe it is more important than ever to empower the next generation of cannabis leaders in a tangible way,” said Webber. “I’m thrilled to team up with Jason on this endeavor — he’s a visionary in this industry and understands the urgency of supporting minority business leaders in this space.”
Despite growing mainstream demand for legal cannabis, BIPOC entrepreneurs have been largely shut out of business opportunities due to social and financial barriers. According to a report from Marijuana Business Daily, over 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by white people, while less than 10% are owned by Black and Hispanic people. This partnership aims to address these racial disparities and provide entrepreneurs of color access to a burgeoning industry projected to reach $130 billion by 2024.
“It’s crucial that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities,” said Webber. “For far too long, minorities have been excessively punished and incarcerated for cannabis while others profited. Working with JW, we will equip underrepresented entrepreneurs with the financial resources and industry knowledge to build businesses and thrive.” Jason Wild, the firm’s founder and Chief Investment Officer, is a registered pharmacist and Chairman of Arbor Pharmaceuticals and TerrAscend Corp. JW Asset Management has a history of finding attractive investment opportunities across the healthcare and cannabis industries and actively invests in both public and private markets.
“The legal cannabis industry can only grow to its full potential when all stakeholders have a seat at the table, and I feel that it is my responsibility to play an active role in eliminating barriers to entry for individuals that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs,” said Jason Wild, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of JW Asset Management. “I look forward to partnering with Chris and his team to elevate talented entrepreneurs and build a more inclusive industry.”